From 10 to 15 June, Damon will be replaced by Briton Adam Rayner. The recent LAMDA graduate has been understudying the role of Dennis, a small-time, college-aged drug dealer in early 1980s Manhattan, since the play opened in the West End on 11 March with its original trio of Hollywood stars - Hayden Christensen, Jake Gyllenhaal and Anna Paquin. Damon's co-stars, Casey (brother of Ben) Affleck and Summer (sister of River and Joaquin) Phoenix, will remain for the final week.
A spokeswoman for This Is Our Youth explained that Damon was never confirmed for these dates as, from the beginning, it was uncertain that his film schedule would permit it. Theatregoers who have booked for the final performances in the hope of seeing Damon are being offered exchanges for an earlier date.
First seen in New York in 1996, when it was nominated for a Drama Desk Award for Best New Play, This Is Our Youth is a tragi-comedy set over a weekend in early 1980s Manhattan, where three college-aged kids from affluent families are living in drugged up squalor.
In addition to Good Will Hunting and The Bourne Identity, Damon's many major film releases include Saving Private Ryan, The Talented Mr Ripley, Ocean's Eleven, Rounders, The Legend of Bagger Vance, The Majestic and All the Pretty Horses.
Affleck and Phoenix will also be making their West End debuts in This Is Our Youth. Affleck has appeared on screen with Damon in Good Will Hunting, Ocean's Eleven, Chasing Amy and the upcoming Gerry. Phoenix's film credits include Esther Kahn, The Believer, Dinner Rush, The Laramie Project and Wasted. While playing Affleck's love interest on stage, she is also his real-life girlfriend.
This Is Our Youth is directed by Laurence Boswell - who will soon be directing Madonna's West End debut, Up for Grabs, down the road at Wyndham's Theatre - and designed by Jeremy Herbert, with lighting by Adam Silverman.
- by Terri Paddock