Ithaca’s Kitchen Theatre closes its season with the comedy, “Matt and Ben”, a spoof on a “what if…?” scenario involving Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
Matt and Ben breaks this season’s mold of presenting plays where social issues are a theme. It’s very light, silly, entertaining, certainly not heavy in any way, and not really reflective of our culture. It’s a fantasy based on real characters. There’s a twist though – it was written and meant to be performed by two women. The authors are Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers. In this production we see Lilli Hokama (Ben) and Caitlin Nasema Cassidy (Matt), both NYC actors in their Kitchen debut, taking the stage.
Another notable aspect of this production is that the cast, writers, directors and entire crew are all women. That very well may be the socially reflective element that this play otherwise lacks.
The setting is Ben Affleck’s apartment. Ben and Matt are there collaborating on a film adaptation of Catcher in the Rye. Based on the real life characters, they have been close friends since childhood and now they are in their early 20s, post collage/before fame. They can’t agree on much when suddenly the finished script of their Oscar winning Good Will Hunting with their names on the cover as authors miraculously and suddenly drops from the ceiling onto the coffee table.
There is much hilarity in their interactions and it even goes beyond reality when (Hokama) leaves and returns in Matt’s fantasy as (a hysterical) Gwyneth Paltrow. Later Ben gets his turn with Cassidy as J. D. Salinger.
Hokama and Cassidy brought a lot of energy to their respective parts. Hokama was exceptionally funny.
The set, by Anna Grigo, was a very realistic young bachelor, one bedroom apartment. Quite messy – stuff on every surface. We see the main room and kitchen, the door to the bed and bathroom, door to the apartment. Must have been fun getting all the stuff for that set.
Lights were by Annie Weigand. There were some very tight and effective lighting cues. Well done.
Pornchanok Kanchanabanca was responsible for the sound design. Much of it was incidental for effect – kinda like TV.
Shana Gozansky directed. I’m sure it was a fun show to direct. There was a lot of movement and even a couple of fights – always tricky on stage.
Matt and Ben has been extended through June 17th. The Kitchen Theatre Company performs at The Percy Browning Performance Space: 417 W. State/MLK, Jr. St. Ithaca, NY 14850. For tickets contact The Kitchen online at kitchentheatre.org/tickets.html
By phone at (607) 272-0570. In person Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM-6:00 PM at the Kitchen offices (409 W. State St.) and Saturday-Sunday, 12:00-4:00 PM at the theater.