Every seat was taken at Stages Repertory Theatre for the opening night of Rogue Productions' adaptation of Matt & Ben, Brenda Withers and Mindy Kaling's 2003 Off-Off-Broadway play.
College friends and co-founders Rachel Logue and Chelsea Ryan McCurdy of Rogue Productions performed a magnificent two-person show to kick off their theater company's inaugural performance.
Set in 1995, Matt & Ben follows struggling actors and best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck when, out of nowhere, the Oscar Award-winning screenplay Good Will Hunting literally falls from the ceiling and into their laps.
Similar to the original staging, the set consists of a kitchen and living room (like Monica’s apartment in Friends). It's obvious that two bachelors live here thanks to crushed beer cans and packets of chips scattered throughout, not to mention a framed head shot of Ben on the side table and spot-on '90s props, like bulky desktop computers and corded landlines.
Like Withers and Kaling, Logue and McCurdy play Ben and Matt. Ben is like the class clown and sports baggy jeans, a plaid shirt and baseball hat similar to a '90s high school jock. Matt, depicted in khakis and a tucked-in button down shirt, seems to be constantly thinking as he considers all the pros and cons of the magically appearing script. Logue and McCurdy play the roles perfectly, along with the appropriate body language and mannerisms. It was easy to picture Matt and Ben actually standing there and enacting the comedic scenario—a difficult feat, for sure.
The dynamic between the two characters was the most interesting to watch. The two best friends can’t live without each other, despite having such vivid—and opposing—personalities. Matt's too serious; Ben's an absolute goofball. When they aren’t eating pizza or drinking beers, they bicker like an old married couple trying to settle on which TV channel to watch. When the life-changing script appears in their apartment, it creates tension—at one point, Matt throws Ben’s desktop out the window—but in the end, their relationship is too strong to let a fight get in the way of their friendship and Hollywood dreams.
“The play really centers on friendship, competition, jealousy and navigating those types of things alongside your best friend,” says Logue. “When you know someone so well, they just know how to get under your skin. But under all of that clownery is a story of true friendship.”
Matt and Ben
Thru Jan 29. $29. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy, Ste 101. 713-527-0220. rogueproductionshtx.com