Finnegan's Wake

On the morning following a typical Irish wake, Nora Finnegan is keeping a vigil beside the casket of her beloved husband, Charlie Finnegan. Priest and family friend, Father Keogh, arrives for comfort and prayers. Responding to a question about Charlie’s suffering during a painful, home-bound illness, Nora admits to having been so disappointed with God for allowing Charlie’s suffering to drag on that she decided the Almighty needed a helping hand. The priest is horrified as Nora details how she laid a pillow on Charlie’s face, left the sickroom for tea, and returned to find him mercifully in the arms of the Lord. Gradually the truth is revealed to the others. Wastrel son Billy, seeing an opportunity for gain, proclaims that, unfortunately, duty demands that he bring in the authorities. Daughter Eileen charges that Billy’s true motive is to get unfettered access to the estate so that he can go on a monumental toot. Cyrus, the undertaker, worries about a delay in the soon-to-be funeral, and local policeman, O’Leary, is skeptical of any report coming from Billy. The characters become witnesses, judge, and jury to resolve the issue. 

Cast NORA FINNEGAN, wife of the deceased. Her agony over her husband’s suffering has driven her to assist God in ending his life. BILLY FINNEGAN, Nora’s son, a wastrel and carouser. After learning of his mother’s act, he declares it his duty to report her. Until now, duty has never been of much concern. EILEEN FINNEGAN, Nora’s daughter. She supports her mother and charges her brother with wanting to gain property and money for a monumental binge. FATHER KEOGH, a Catholic priest. More than a family priest, he is a close friend of Nora’s. Aghast when he learns of her act, he is torn by loyalty to Nora and duty. CYRUS ALSAKER, the undertaker. According to Billy, he was the school nerd and nitpicker. He is not happy to learn the facts of Nora’s act since it could mean a delay on a day with two funerals scheduled. JACK O’LEARY, local police officer. Also a family friend, he is dragged unwillingly into the house by the now high-and-mighty Billy to administer justice.
Donald Arneson