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One Flea Spare Paperback – September 1, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I sat in a theater at the Humana Festival last year, after the closing monologue of ONE FLEA SPARE, unable to move. I had known Naomi Wallace's work well, having directed an earlier play, and I knew she had tremendous talent and promised to great things. Nothing had prepared me--not my admiration for her plays and for her beautiful, harsh, moving, brilliantly political poetry--for the experience of watching this play, which is in my opinion one of the finest works of dramatic literature written here or in England in the last two decades. Utterly without sentiment but possessed of a very great human heart, ONE FLEA SPARE touches upon many things, class and gender and the pressures of a plague upon internal and external human constructs; and, as I read it, most devastatingly it addresses a tragedy of almost inexpressible dimensions: the consequences of the horrors of biology and Capital on the young. As the play draws to its shattering close I was filled with thoughts of the children of Sarajevo and Rwanda and the slums of America. `Almost' inexpressible except in the hands of a true poet, and Naomi Wallace so magnificently proves herself to be. Her ability to articulate the inarticulable, grief and loss and suffering beyond endurance, is a source of hope; as is the resilience and passion of the marvelous characters she's assembled. Everyone who loves the theater should read this play. It has made me INTENSELY envious and very full of joy. --Tony Kushner

Naomi Wallace sharply tightens her focus in this latest, thrillingly original work, set for the most part in a virtually bare London room during the Great Plague. --Jeremy Kingston, The Times (London)

Poetic...Naomi Wallace's ONE FLEA SPARE is another example of fine, ambitious writing.... The London plague is evoked in statistics and the overwhelming reality of quirky, Marivaux-like social role reversals in a single room. --Michael Coveney, The Observer (London)

Naomi Wallace sharply tightens her focus in this latest, thrillingly original work, set for the most part in a virtually bare London room during the Great Plague. --Jeremy Kingston, The Times (London)

Poetic...Naomi Wallace's ONE FLEA SPARE is another example of fine, ambitious writing.... The London plague is evoked in statistics and the overwhelming reality of quirky, Marivaux-like social role reversals in a single room. --Michael Coveney, The Observer (London)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 72 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Play Pub; 3rd edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 088145138X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0881451382
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 1, 2002
This startling and fresh drama actually takes place in 1665, and concerns two upper class Londoners who get locked into a house with a sailor and a mysterious little girl. Because a servant died of plague in the house, the house has been boarded up for thirty days. Therefore, the four occupants must spend this time together in confines too close for comfort. What transpires in this at times hilarious black comedy is a disturbing clash of classes, and an exploration of gender roles and the body.
What is especially striking in the play is the erotic and strange love story between the sailor, Bunce, and the much older Darcy. Darcy's body has been badly burned from a childhood accident. In one scene of searing erotic intensity, Bunce touches her body in different places to see where she has feeling left. In another scene, Darcy puts her finger into a wound in Bunce's side. These are the sort of disturbing and erotic gender-bending scenes for which Wallace is known. This play will not disappoint!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 14, 2002
Wallace's One Flea Spare is nearly unbearably beautiful in its precise language and poetic images, such as a woman who has not been touched by her husband in years speaking of a horse burning in a stable fire. The characters are all stuck in both a real and a metaphorical prison (people did get locked into their houses in plague ridden England)and can not escape each other. The class system is suddenly kicked aside when all the characters find they must depend on one another for their very survival. It speaks politically but the voice is never pedantic, as the honesty of the narrator, a witty and relentlessly observant young girl strips the pretenses and defences of the the adults around her in ways that are startingly funny.
The drama and suspense is fired up by the situation and by the building sexual tensions and confronations. Politics, voyeurism, poetry. It's all here. A brilliant work.
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A wonderful play! I highly recommend this mystical piece of work. I haven't read a play like it (though I am not as well read in plays as I am in novels)
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Outstanding, one of the best pieces I have read in years. Wallace has an amazing ability to create such a sparse, detailed and controlling environment.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 2001
In production, Naomi Wallace's play can be a seductively haunting and beautiful depiction of plague-stricken London. Her poetic prowess is such that the tone of the piece hangs in the back of one's mind for days, with turns of phrase re-entering the consciousness without warning. Furthermore, the script is laced with sufficient humor to keep the darker tone from becoming caricatured or overly monotonous.
Unfortunately, the piece fails on a more essential level. For all of Ms. Wallace's ability as a poet and wordsmith, her instincts as a dramatist are somewhat weak. The motivations of the individual characters, and their resulting interactions with one another, are often difficult, and sometimes impossible, to make sense of as parts of a significant whole. Though its external beauty may be deceiving, one is left with an unshakeable feeling that "One Flea Spare" is essentially hollow beneath the surface, and this is a charge of which the piece cannot acquit itself.
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