Don Fried — Playwright & Author

Present Future



John and Mary, a couple in their late forties, have two related businesses. The first, Present Future, is a storage and archiving service for unwanted gifts. Clients deposit unwanted gifts from relatives, friends or other important acquaintances, and register relevant details – whom the gift was from, when it was given, why the gift may be significant – in Present Future’s data base. When clients are about to receive visits from the people who gave them the gifts, they call Present Future, who temporarily return the items. In this way, all the hideous presents that Aunt Bea and Uncle Harry have given over the years will be proudly displayed on walls, mantle-pieces, and coffee tables when they come to visit; but the items can be immediately returned to storage as soon as Aunt Bea and Uncle Harry have left.

The second business, Pick Knacks, is a home decoration rental service. Pick Knacks provides its clients with home furnishings on a rental basis. Unbeknownst to the clients of either business, the deposited items from Present Future are providing the inventory for Pick Knacks. Things get interesting when a Present Future client needs an item which is being used for a Pick Knacks client, but John and Mary are masters at the required juggling act.

John and Mary’s son, Dana, is in his mid twenties; he works as the decorator for Pick Knacks. John and Mary provide him with the inventory from Present Future (mostly in hideously bad taste), and Dana figures out how to use them for Pick Knacks customers. However, Dana is unaware of where the inventory comes from.

Fiona, a newspaper reporter in her mid twenties, deposits some unwanted gifts from her father in Present Future. She then goes into Pick Knacks to have Dana provide her with home decoration rentals. Dana and Fiona are attracted to each other, and Fiona offers to do a newspaper article on Pick Knacks. John and Mary realize that the unwanted publicity could blow the cover off their cozy business scam, and are horrified.

John’s wealthy mother, Isabel, is a tough, domineering woman in her mid seventies. John’s father abandoned Isabel shortly before John was born, and she has hated all men ever since. In fact, when Mary became pregnant with Dana, Isabel established a trust fund, which the child would inherit only if it were a girl. When the baby turned out to be a boy, John and Mary decided to give him an androgynous name – Dana – and to fool Isabel into thinking that Dana is female. Isabel has been living in Australia since before Dana was born so she has never seen him. But Dana is now coming to the age of inheritance, and Isabel chooses the day of the Pick Knacks interview to come for a visit.

T.C., Fiona’s father, is a wealthy businessman from another city. He also comes to town on the day of the interview. Thus, John and Mary have to: a) keep T.C. and Fiona from realizing that T.C.’s gifts are in Pick Knacks and blowing the cover off the whole scam; b) keep Dana from finding out where the inventory for Pick Knacks comes from; and c) get Dana to dress up like a woman and keep Isabel from discovering his sex. Through a series of mishaps, it turns out John also has to dress in women’s clothing and pretend to be Isabel’s granddaughter.

Eventually, it is revealed that T.C. is the lover who abandoned Isabel before John was born, which makes Fiona Dana’s half-aunt. So Fiona and Dana won’t be able to act on their mutual attraction. Or will they?

Don being attacked by unwanted presents on the set of "Present Future"

Don being attacked by unwanted presents on the set of "Present Future"

2 Responses to "Present Future"

This is hilarious! Would love to see it!

Thanks. The audience at the first production last March seemed to like it a lot. I’ve been working on other things for the past year, but I’m definitely going to get back to marketing it again. Do you know any theaters that might like to put it on?
Actually, the concept started as a family joke. We lived in Europe for 30 years and got lots of sleep-in visitors. One year, when we were in London, we got 21 separate sets of overnight guests. Nearly every one of them gave us a present, and if they didn’t have the decency to give us something that we could eat or drink, or that lost its petals in a few days, it was something that should go on the coffee table or the wall.
We nearly always hated whatever it was, and we always felt guilty throwing it away or giving it away and not having it out the next time the people came to visit.
So one day I said to the family, “What the world needs is a warehousing and database service for unwanted presents.” They all loved it. I’d tell other people about the idea, just as a joke. But after the laughing died down, nearly everyone would say, “Could you offer that as a service? Please??!!
The idea percolated in my head for another 6 or 7 years until I retired, and then, voila, “Present Future,”

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