Play “One Flea Spare” by Naomi Wallace Summary

  • Updated July 27, 2023
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I sat in Miami Dade College campus hall for two hours reading the play One Flea Spare by Naomi Wallace. I haven’t seen or read Naomi’s work before so this would be my first time reading her work. Nothing had prepared me at that moment and I have heard great things about Naomi’s work. The play takes place in 1665 during the Great Plague, which involved a wealthy elderly couple, a sailor and a little girl. They spend 28-days boarded into the wealthy couple’s home.

The only residents of the home are an upper class exporter William Snelgrave and his wife, Darcy Snelgrave, they were about to be released from a month-long detention period but apparently instituted when their servants fell victim to the dreaded plague. The Snelgraves are confined once again when two unforeseen and unwelcome visitors spurt into their lives. The two invaders were Bunce, a sailor and Morse a somewhat hypnagogic, boundless 12-year-old girl who claims to be the child of their now dead noble neighbor.

They prove to be unstable additions to a household already diseased with blistering sores of anger and frustration, lust and pain. With Wallace, a political playwright calling the shots has the dysfunctional Snelgraves’ and their prisoners designed to breakdown of the class system outside the house. A fifth person in this abnormal household of unlikely companions is a voracious guard, Kabe who keeps elated watch on them and offers favors with oranges and apples as a lure to satisfy his own disgusting taste for child sexploitation.

Wallace’s play explores issues in class division and gender connection that would completely break the intense emotions in the work. Each scene is layered like an onion and different as the play continues. As I read the play, I realized that this play is not the stuff to take as lightly as possible. Wallace examines the ways of love, disease, class intact in, and death. In the end, I was left with a multitude questions about possible interrelationship between scenes in the highly complicated play. Perhaps it is doesn’t fully illuminate Wallace’s text.

But One Flea Spare is clearly a play that needs multiple viewings and readings. It is definitely an interesting play. A play where no boundaries are placed and kept in a loop of questions, confusion, and images that is vivid. It makes it painfully clear on how closely death and sexual intimacy walk in hand in hand. The characters are each other’s destruction, salvation and how they long to be held and touched; yet also given to cruelty and violence impact of power.

Bottom line is that this play is a dark, weird revival of the play. I will definitely reread the play and process it to fully understand it. Causing confusing on the first read I manage to reread what I read to come up a critic. Naomi Wallace is truly an interesting person after writing this play. It truly speaks.


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Play “One Flea Spare” by Naomi Wallace Summary. (2021, Jul 23). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/play-one-flea-spare-by-naomi-wallace/

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