Matt & Ben at the Edmonton fringe Festival

Emma Henig and Holly Wandler in Matt & Ben. Photo credit: Paolo Rosselli

Emma Henig and Holly Wandler in Matt & Ben. Photo credit: Paolo Rosselli

Matt & Ben by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Wither
August 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 21 at Venue #9: Telus Phone Museum


An interview with Gregory Caswell.

Describe your show in five words.

Hilarious heart-felt homage and parody.

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Before becoming a household name, Mindy Kaling wrote this hilarious play with her bestie, Brenda Withers, reimagining the roots of Hollywood’s most famous bromance, Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Absolutely hilarious, this heartfelt and nostalgic Fringe classic not only pays homage to the two actors, but also to youthful drive and creativity.

Matt & Ben is a total bromance. What are some of the ways you play up the bromance in Matt & Ben?

What’s most interesting about where we find Matt and Ben in the course of their bromance is not in the honeymoon phase, but on the rocks; they seem to be holding on for dear life, when the script for ‘Good Will Hunting’ falls from the sky and bonds them for life. Holly Wandler (Matt) and Emma Hennig (Ben) have been friends for years, so it’s quite easy for them to create the chemistry onstage. We just get to have a whole lot of fun roughing up the edges. They swear, they devour pizza, they chug drinks, they talk about girls, they even get into a fist fight. It’s a ton of fun creating the mayhem of their world.

Although Matt & Ben centres around Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, the characters are traditionally played by women. What does this casting choice add to the show?

Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers wrote the play for themselves, and for future female actors, to have comedic roles to play. During the audition, we did open casting to both males and females, but it’s hard to put a finger on why it’s funnier when women play the roles. It might be the added parody of hyper-masculinity; it might be because it’s amazing fun to watch women be unapologetically funny. All in all, it just works better.

The plays you’ve done in the past (Spearsical the Musical: The Britney Spears Musical, Man Up!) also draw inspiration from pop culture. What appeals to you about plays based on pop culture?

Pop culture and the parody of it is fascinating to me because it holds a mirror up to our collective obsession with it as a society. We are often times distracted by it when there’s bigger problems in the world. So, it’s pretty fun showing the audience that. It lets the air out of the tires and brings us back to reality. It reminds us that our pop culture heroes are just people with gigantic pay cheques.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

This production is a continued journey of three students from Paul Kane High School who took home best play at the Edmonton High School One Acts Festival. I’m blown away by each of their talents! If you’ve been hearing about this crazy play, this is the perfect production to see what all the buzz is about.

The 35th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 11 – 21. Tickets go on sale August 3 at noon and will be available at tickets.fringetheatre.ca.

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