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“One Flea Spare” is a play written by Naomi Wallace. It is set in 1665 during the outbreak of the bubonic plague in London and raises questions about class, morality, and the value of human life.
About the Author:
Naomi Wallace (1960-) is a notable American playwright. In addition, she is also a screenwriter and poet. Famous works of hers include “And I And Silence”, “One Flea Spare”, and “Birdy”.
The theme of this play examines themes of class, morality, and the value of human life in the context of a plague outbreak.
“One Flea Spare” revolves around four characters: a wealthy couple, Snelgrave and Darcy, who has been quarantined in their home for 28 days, and two lower-class individuals, Bunce and Morse, who have been caught breaking curfew and are seeking refuge in the couple’s home. The characters in the play come from different backgrounds and have different motivations, which highlights the differences between the upper and lower classes in society. Snelgrave and Darcy are wealthy and privileged, while Bunce and Morse are poor and desperate. The play portrays the class differences through the attitudes and behaviours of the characters, particularly how the wealthy couple sees the lower class individuals as less important and less deserving of safety and survival.
As they wait for their release, tensions rise as the four characters confront their own fears and desires, and are forced to confront the harsh realities of life and death in a time of crisis and are made to consider what it means to be alive. The play thus questions whether every life is valuable or if some lives are more valuable than others, particularly in the context of the societal hierarchy of the time.
“One Flea Spare” is a powerful play that uses the backdrop of the bubonic plague ravaged land in the 17th century to encourages the audience to consider how we treat others, particularly in times of crisis when one’s safety and security are threatened.