Flanagan's Wake | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Flanagan's Wake 

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You don't have to be Irish (or drunk) to appreciate the shenanigans in Noble Fool's improvised musical memorial, conceived and directed by Jack Bronis. But you should come prepared to play along. Boisterous as ever in their ninth season, the show's ale-quaffing villagers pay homage to fallen friend Flanagan with stories and folk tunes based mostly on audience suggestions--a treacherous tightrope to walk, particularly after a few pints. Their success depends largely on viewer enthusiasm. The crowd at the show I saw was especially game, but the story contributions were downright sadistic, imposing a camel and a porcupine on a tale of travel in Ireland. The players came through--respectably if not always brilliantly--but missing the mark was often funnier than hitting it. Those wanting to give the beleaguered cast a break might come prepared with a pile of words rhyming with "Guinness." Ticket holders are also granted free entrance to the downstairs cabaret, where a plentiful assortment of entertainment--music, sketch comedy, improv, juggling--awaits. Noble Fool Theater Company, 16 W. Randolph, Chicago, 312-726-1156. Open run: Thursdays-Fridays, 7:30 PM; Saturdays, 4, 7, and 9:30 PM; Sundays, 3 PM. $29. Also at Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, 111 Campbell, Arlington Heights, 847-577-2121. Through January 28: Tuesdays, 7:30 PM. $25.

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