What is it? Local actresses Andrea McGinn and Christina Rhodes play Matt Damon and Ben Affleck in this play about the rise to stardom of two New England actors turned screenwriters turned Academy Award winners.
Why see it? As celebrities, Matt and Ben might be dull, but the show Matt and Ben has been a consistent crowd-pleaser across the nation since its 2003 premiere. We’re also hoping for some script changes that add the couple’s recent “canoodling” with Jimmy Kimmel and Sarah Silverman.
Who should go? Anyone who’s ever wanted to see Ben Affleck without the five o’clock shadow — and with breasts.
PICCOLO SPOLETO • $15 • 1 hour 15 min. • May 27, 29, June 4 at 9 p.m. • American Theater, 446 King St. • (888) 374-2656
How Do You Like Dem Apples? Gender-bending Matt and Ben adjusts anatomical fruit
Sarah Silverman isn’t the only funny lady trying to get into Matt Damon’s pants — she’s just the only one getting in his pants that isn’t playing Matt Damon.
Local actress Andrea McGinn will be playing the role of the Boston nobody turned Hollywood somebody in Matt and Ben, a comedy about the action star and his BFF Ben Affleck, played by Christina Rhodes.
It’s hard not to begrudge the duo for their Oscar win as the screenwriters of Good Will Hunting. It’s the same type of feeling one might have when Affleck’s name is preceded in action movie trailers by “Academy Award winner” — like he won it for Armageddon or something.
So, it’s easy to assume that Matt and Ben, first presented Off Broadway in 2003, is a scathing indictment of the power couple with names too short and muddled to put together (Men? Batt?).
Instead, McGinn says it’s a light-hearted jab at the two life-long friends who rise to fame from comical squalor.
“It’s poking fun at the two actors,” McGinn says. “It’s basically that scenario: Where were they before Robin Williams and Gus Van Sant?”
The story starts with Matt and Ben sitting in a dingy apartment writing what they’re sure will be the script of their young lives: an adaptation of Catcher in the Rye. Just when all hope seems lost, the script for Good Will Hunting falls from the sky. And the two spend the rest of the show trying to get out of their own way to make this miracle a hit.
Who knows? It may have happened that way. But we’re pretty sure Damon and Affleck are dudes. In Matt and Ben, they’re played by women.
“When I heard about it, I said, ‘Will this work? Will people find this funny?,'” McGinn says. “It does work and it’s hilarious.”
Preparing to play guys was a challenge.
“There were a couple of times that I would shoot out my hip like girls do,” McGinn says.
To really get into the role, she started wearing some of her husband’s clothes around the house and, before long, would catch herself walking around during the day like a guy.
“It’s very organic when you start developing the character,” she says.
While it’s evident this is a new direction for McGinn, she says it goes beyond the gender-bending.
“It’s unusual because I’m usually cast as a girl running around in my underwear,” she says. “This is probably the closest to the straight man that I’ve played.”
As a Boston girl, McGinn was already familiar with the duo, but she and Rhodes still took the time to immerse themselves in the actors’ films.
You may recognize some mannerisms from the guys, but McGinn stresses they’re not playing caricatures of the stars.
“We didn’t want people saying, ‘Is that something Matt would do?'” she says.
The fight scene at the end of the show provides its own set of challenges. The New York Times review of the original production noted one of the actresses got her nose broken and was back at work the next night.
No tragedy that severe for McGinn, but she’s had a few close calls.
“I thought I almost took her out one night — I thought I heard her back snap,” she says of one tackle, before telling a story of how, on another night, Rhodes “flat-out punched me in the face.”
Don’t expect any references to Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmell and their dueling internet hits about fucking the power duo. McGinn says that, while it doesn’t appear in the show, it’s a fitting epilogue.
“These guys can just laugh at themselves and their fame,” she says. “I think it’s the same message.”
In the end, that message is still that these guys came from where you are.
“They used to be there,” McGinn says. “They’re just the same as every schmo on the street. They have their faults and can act like babies. They just dress nicer now.”