Matt & Ben… Not Oscar Worthy

Let me start this review with the facts of the world… ABBIE STYRAN (she/her) IS THE FUNNIEST PERSON IN THE WORLD! Okay now that we have set the facts let us talk about the BSU Theatre production of Matt & Ben written by Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers and directed by BSU senior Caroline McNelis (she/her).

Matt & Ben follows Matt Damon and Ben Affleck before they were famous. Through the show, the audience sees characters and receives a script for the movie Good Will Hunting written by themselves. Conflict ensues and eventually they win an Oscar for the script. Not a spoiler because it happened in 1998.

Starting off with the good, the costumes and set were very fun in this show. Due to this being a student repertory theatre show, all three of these aspects were created by students Jordan Vermilya (she/her) for costumes and Deeyanna Duffie (she/her) for scenic design. Vermilya was able to capture the time period of the costumes perfectly and made the garments match the character’s personalities. The other fun part of the costumes was the quick changes that both the actors had to do to play the other’s, spiritual mentor. Those alternative costumes gave the show a dose of camp and allowed the actors to get even more into their characters.

Moving on to the scenic design of the show, Duffie did a fantastic job of making the apartment that the show takes place in look lived in. From the poster of the movie, the characters being tacked onto the wall with little to no frame, to the browning kitchen appliances. The set truly looked like an apartment of a 20-something-year-old.

Lastly, time to talk about the part of the show that maybe was not that great; the acting. Now to be clear, the reason I did not like this was that it was unbalanced on stage for a show with only two actors, which is not great. Starting as always and as previously stated Styran is a comedy genius and I could write a dissertation on how her facial expressions and body movements sold the character of Ben Alffeck and made the show for me. Sadly on the other end of the spectrum was Madison Bradbury (she/they) seemed over her head in this show. While every joke of Styran hit to the point, I felt like I was missing the next line as Bradbury rarely got a laugh out of me. It seemed like there were jokes written for her but the delivery made them feel like it was a dramatic show, not a comedy.

Overall the show was well put together but the unbalance in the actors on stage made it so much less enjoyable. I would give this show a 6 out of 10.

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