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Dumb and Dumber

The Triangle Players deliver a goofy skewer of celebrity "it" boys in "Matt & Ben."

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They don't waste much time answering the question. Right off the bat, we see the script for "Good Will Hunting" magically fall from the apartment ceiling. Damon and Affleck quickly decide that God has given them the script. Soon we see their friendship tested by glossy ambition and arm-punching male competitiveness.

Kristen Swanson plays Matt Damon and Jennifer Frank plays Ben Affleck. Their comedic timing is impeccable. In fact, they are so good together, perhaps we should start referring to them as Krennifer. They even manage to generate some "Odd Couple" shtick because of Damon's fastidiousness and Affleck's slob-without-a-care routine.

The playwrights, Mindy Kaling and Brenda Withers (who also performed the show in New York), serve up salty spitballs that almost never miss the mark. Best of all — and I won't tell how it is done — the real Matt Damon and Ben Affleck deliver the coup de grce themselves at the end of the play.

There's no logical reason why women are playing these two characters. It's just the central goof in a play of nonstop goofiness. After a few minutes, it appears perfectly natural. It even seems reasonable when J.D. Salinger (Swanson with a pipe) and Gwyneth Paltrow (Frank in a blond wig) show up unannounced at the apartment.

Amy Berlin's deadpan direction emphasizes the play's fringe festival roots. And Akin Sinn does a good job of creating Ben Affleck's dormlike apartment long before he became associated with Jennifer Lopez and Park Avenue shopping orgies.

Stand-up comedian Steve Moore introduces the show with an autobiographical monologue that touches on an entirely different set of pop culture icons including James Dean, Natalie Wood and Roseanne Barr. It's a nice way of leading into a show that so ruthlessly skewers celebrity. The play itself runs just a little over an hour which, in my book, automatically qualifies it for a best play nomination regardless of content and quality.

You shouldn't bother with this show if you're the kind of person who shuns "People" magazine, doesn't know the name of Paris Hilton's latest teacup Chihuahua and thinks television hasn't been funny since Steve Allen left "The Tonight Show." But if you take catty satisfaction in watching overpaid, oversexed Hollywood types make complete fools of themselves, you don't want to miss "Matt & Ben." S



Continues through Dec. 10 at Fielden's Cabaret Theatre, 2033 W. Broad St. Tickets are $16 Friday-Saturday, $14 Thursday-Sunday. Call 346-8113.

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