If pure, unabashed silliness were in extremely short supply on New York stages, "Flanagan's Wake," arriving in the city after a lengthy run in Chicago, might have had a shot at some sort of future here in Gotham. As it happens, however, there's plenty of giddy stuff on hand without piling on any further fluff at the moment.
The show, which bills itself as an "Hilarious Interactive Irish Wake," isn't new, but the venue where it's playing, Sweet Caroline's Main Floor Theatre, a former studio, is on its maiden voyage as a stage. While "Flanagan's Wake" is located in the theater district, whether or not it qualifies as a stageworthy event is open to question. There was an Irish equivalent, which had only a short run Off-Broadway a few seasons ago, despite the fact that the package included a dinner of corned beef and boiled potatoes.
"Flanagan's Wake" has played New York before, with a brief stand a couple of seasons back at the Soho Playhouse on Vandam Street, where the Irish Repertory Theatre's excellent production of Eugene O'Neill's "The Emperor Jones" has recently transferred for an extended run.
The advertising material for "Flanagan's Wake" doesn't list the name of an author, but the director of the seven-actor venture is identified as Amy Binns-Calvey.
An unadorned, unvarnished, coffin-sized box stamped "This Side Up" stands at the corner of the acting area as the audience makes its way toward the chairs lined up around the room. The 90-minute endeavor that follows is a little bit like the shows that "the kids" in movies starring Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland used to put on in their families' barns. The difference here is that the participants in "Flanagan's Wake" aren't exactly "kids" and, in some cases, haven't been "kids" in quite a while.
The point is that this is, overall, sloppy, lazy, even sub-professional work, despite its joviality and its generally happy disposition. The plot feels thrown together as though employing a daft board, with the jokes, mainly predictable, landing or not at random.
Among the characters, who are as predictable as the gags, is a sanctimonious priest, delighted with the sound of his own voice. There is, as well, the deceased's fianc