Fringe review: Prank

Danny Pagett's futuristic comedy about the children of social media celebrities doesn't do enough with its intriguing premise

PRANK by Danny Pagett (Thundermind Theatre). Tarragon Extraspace. July 9 at 10 pm, July 10 at 2:45 pm, July 12 at 7:45 pm, July 14 at 5:30 pm, July 15 at 2 pm. See listing. Rating: NNN 

What will the children of today’s social media celebrities be like? According to Danny Pagett’s play Prank the answer is “unhappy.”

Khal (Christel Bartelse) and her younger sister Ruthy (Cyndey Penner) have both cut ties with their parents who used them as subjects of cruel pranks in the videos on their money-making YouTube channel.

It is now 2038 and Khal is angry at Ruthy for doing nothing but vlogging when she could be working and bringing in some money. Ruthy thinks announcing her pregnancy to her followers will boost her likes, but when she suggests discussing her past, Khal blows up.

On the one hand, this seems understandable, but Pagett never asks why Ruthy shouldn’t cash in on her parents’ fame as some recompense for their abuse. The argument between the sisters is more serious than humorous, more repetitive than enlightening. It’s more like a clichéd critique of present-day millennials than of life 20 years from now.

For a story set in 2038 it’s also odd that the plot depends on the two sisters being no more  tech savvy than media neophytes today. While both actors turn in intense performances, Bartelse’s earnestness is no match for Penner’s sparkling insouciance.

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