Tina Munoz Pandya plays Ben Affleck (left) and Jen Shepard portrays Matt Damon in Penobscot Theatre Company's production of "Matt and Ben" at the Bangor Opera House. The play imagines how the pair wrote the Oscar-winning film "Good Will Hunting" before they became movie stars. Credit: Courtesy of Bill Kuykendall

How did two unknown actors manage to write an Oscar-winning screenplay when they were in their early 20s in a crummy apartment in Somerville, Massachusetts?

That’s the premise of the Penobscot Theatre Company’s most recent production, “Matt and Ben.” Of course, Matt and Ben are now superstars Damon and Affleck but they were nobodies when they collaborated on “Good Will Hunting” in the 1990s, which led to speculation that a Hollywood script doctor really penned it.

“Matt and Ben” is a 70-minute piece of sketch comedy that may have been a shiny satire when it was written for a fringe festival 20 years ago but its luster has faded to a ditchwater dullness. Affleck’s recent return to the glossy covers of pop culture magazines due to his marriage to Jennifer Lopez makes the show less, not more, relevant because the world has changed so much since 2018 let alone 1997, the year the film premiered.

The production at the Bangor Opera House garnered a standing ovation at the Sunday matinee opening weekend but that, I assume, was for the fine performances and excellent production values and not this trifle of a script. I won’t reveal the show’s one and only clever revelation, so audiences will be intrigued, if not surprised, by it.

Mindy Kaling, now known for her work on the television show “The Office,” and playwright Brenda Withers wrote the show in 2002, when they were in their early 20s, for a fringe festival. It was first performed off-Broadway the following year to mixed reviews but most of them included praise for having two women in the roles of Damon and Affleck.

Having them portrayed by female actors — including one woman of color — may say something about the lack of women and minorities in power in Hollywood, but exactly what it’s trying to say is not clear from the dialogue. Theatergoers can decide for themselves the point the writers are trying to make now that we are past the sex abuse scandals involving Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.

The company’s executive director, Jen Shepard, and Tina Munoz Pandya of Chicago star as best friends Matt and Ben, respectively. Both give fine performances but it is Shepard’s brief incarnation as the pudding-eating, recluse J.D. Salinger theatergoers will remember long after other memories of the production fade.

Pandya and Shepard work well together and bring to life at least one aspect of how 20-something males actually communicate — by arguing and sharing junk food. I’d like to see them together again but with a better script.

Visiting director Lavina Jadwani wrings every laugh possible from the dialogue and keeps the action moving. She avoids turning the show into a celebrity version of “Dumb and Dumber” so that Matt and Ben, the characters, retain some dignity.

The creative crew that includes scenic designer Jess Ploszaj, lighting designer Erica Lauren Maholmes, costume designer Kevin Jacob Koski, props designer Reed Davis and sound designer Ben Scheff create a realistically grubby apartment in Somerville before it was gentrified that conjures up memories of theatergoers’ own first abodes.

The theater company’s new artistic director, Jonathan Berry, said in the program for “Matt and Ben” that his first instinct when he took the job in May was to cut the show from the season.

He should have listened to whatever little voice in his head was talking to him and gone with a play that local audiences are familiar with just as theater groups in other parts of the state have done. Theatergoers on Sunday took up about a third of the seats in the Opera House, not enough to sustain the company past its 50th season next year if attendance continues to lag.

“Matt and Ben” will be performed through Nov. 6 at the Bangor Opera House, 131 Main Street, Bangor. For more information, call 942-3333 or visit penobscottheatre.org.