What: Matt & Ben
Where: Roxy Theatre
When: Nov. 10 to 15 (doors 7 p.m., show 8 p.m.)
Tickets: $22 at 250 590-6291 or ticketrocket.co
Atomic Vaudeville is renowned in Victoria for lampooning formidable targets, whether they be U2’s The Edge (“the world’s tallest leprechaun”), Osama bin Laden (“the bin Laden beach party!”) or even the devil (“Satan is an out-of-work actress”).
Appropriately, perhaps, the irreverent troupe is now reprising a comedy poking fun at two film stars. Matt & Ben takes aim at Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Originally staged at the New York International Fringe Festival in 2002, the one-act play was written and performed by Mindy Kaling (The Office, The Mindy Project) and her college chum, Brenda Withers.
In the spoof, Affleck and Damon are portrayed years ago, before they hit it huge, hanging out in their frat-boy apartment. Affleck is keen to do a screen adaptation of Catcher in the Rye. But then a manuscript of Good Will Hunting (their 1997 breakthrough movie) literally falls into their hands from heaven … or at least, the ceiling of their bachelor pad.
Matt & Ben was a cult hit for Kaling and Withers — the show was lauded by the New York Times and Time magazine. The Atomic Vaudeville production at the Roxy Theatre is directed by Jacob Richmond, whose musical Ride the Cyclone is now playing in Chicago.
Matt & Ben co-stars Britt Small (who co-founded Atomic Vaudeville with Richmond) as a track-suited Affleck. Damon is played by khaki-trousered Amanda Lisman, a Victoria actor who’s performed with the Stratford Festival, Edmonton’s Citadel Theatre and Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre.
Both Small and Lisman are long-time performers in Atomic Vaudeville, which specializes in skits. However, this is the first time they’ve been paired up for a full show.
The cross-gender casting gives the romp extra zip, Small says. And playing a doofus-like Affleck is especially fun.
“It’s kind of different for me. A lot of times, I play the more straight character in our Vaudeville shows and what not. So yeah, it’s really fun for me to play a real ‘bro’,” she said.
The play is replete with goofy laughs. There are dream sequences with J.D. Salinger and Affleck’s ex-girlfriend, Gwyneth Paltrow. Yet Small says it’s not all fluff.
“There’s some touching moments about friendship and the complexities of that as they navigate the potential of fame coming into their lives.”