One Flea Spare

Naomi Wallace
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Winner of the 1995 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize,
Winner of an Obie Award for Best Play


By turns hilarious and deeply moving, ONE FLEA SPARE is set in plague-ravaged 17th-century London where social roles and the boundaries that describe them have been thrust into chaos. The definition of morality is up for grabs. History is being tantalized. And whilst the wealthy William Snelgrave dreams of sweating, swearing tars, and of how sailors satisfy their “baser instincts” so far away from female company, his own wife, untouched for 40 years, is discovering that her dreadfully burned body may not be numb after all. The human heart craves comfort, contact, tenderness. Survival may take many forms.

Production Info

Cast: 5 total (2 female, 3 male)
Full Length Drama (about 110 minutes)
Single Set
Period Costumes

Press Quotes

“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 promise to do 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, as 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 makes an opaque but artful and haunting New York debut with her ONE FLEA SPARE … ONE FLEA SPARE is built to provoke, not to distract, and it doesn’t surrender its meanings easily. But the play’s powerful sexual subtext and its beautiful poetic surface reveal an original theatrical imagination. Whether Wallace will find a big audience remains to be seen. She has a big talent, though. Wherever her plays are mounted, they’re worth finding.” —John Lahr, The New Yorker

About the Author


  • Naomi Wallace

    Naomi Wallace is a playwright from Kentucky. Her plays — which have been produced in the United Kingdom, Europe, the United States, and the Middle East — include IN THE HEART OF AMERICA, SLAUGHTER CITY, ONE FLEA SPARE, THE TRESTLE AT POPE LICK CREEK, THINGS OF DRY HOURS, THE FEVER CHART: THREE VISION OF THE MIDDLE EAST, AND I AND SILENCE, THE HARD WEATHER BOATING PARTY, THE LIQUID PLAIN. Her stage adaptation of William Wharton's novel Birdy was produced on the West End in London. In 2009, ONE FLEA SPARE was incorporated in the permanent repertoire of the French National Theater, the Comédie- Francaise. Only two American playwrights have been added to La Comédie's repertoire in 300 years. Films: Lawn Dogs, The War Boys, Flying Blind (co-written with Bruce McLeod). Awards: Susan Smith Blackburn Prize (twice), Joseph Kesselring Prize, Fellowship of Southern Writers Drama Award, Obie Award, and the 2012 Horton Foote Award for most promising new American play. She is also a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts development grant. In 2013, Wallace received the inaugural Windham Campbell prize for drama and in 2015, an Arts and Letters Award in Literature.

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 9/1/1997
Pages 72
ISBN 9780881451382

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:

Originally produced at the Bush Theater, London
The US premiere was at the Actors Theatre of Louisville

The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
One Flea Spare is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC


Upcoming and Recent Productions


10/26/2022 – 11/12/2022
Second Thought Theatre
Dallas, TX

7/5/2019 – 7/21/2019
Connective Theatre Company
Chicago, IL

10/30/2016 – 11/30/2016
Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company
New York, NY


11/2/2023 – 11/12/2023
Brown/trinity Mfa Programs
Providence, RI

3/23/2023 – 4/1/2023
Georgetown University
Washinghton, DC

5/27/2022 – 5/29/2022
College Of The Atlantic
Bar Harbor, ME

4/8/2022 – 4/30/2022
Main Stage West
Sebastopol, CA

10/7/2021 – 10/24/2021
Springs Ensemble Theatre
Colorado Springs, CO

5/6/2021 – 5/15/2021
Augustana College Alpha Psi Omega
Rock Island, IL

10/23/2020 – 10/23/2020
Lees-Mcrae, Theatre Arts
Banner Elk, NC

10/18/2020 – 10/19/2020
University Of South Florida
Tampa, FL

5/9/2020 – 5/9/2020
Santa Clara, CA

5/8/2020 – 5/8/2020
Theatre Coup D'etat
Mineapolis, MN

11/21/2019 – 11/23/2019
Middlebury College, Theatre Dept.
Middlebury, VT

3/3/2019 – 3/3/2019
Angels Theatre Company
Lincoln, NE

1/22/2019 – 1/27/2019
The Theatre School At Depaul University
Chicago, IL

4/17/2018 – 4/21/2018
New York University
New York, NY

1/18/2018 – 2/4/2018
Mad Horse Theatre Company
South Portland, ME

2/28/2017 – 3/5/2017
Texas A&m University- Commerce
Commerce, TX

1/26/2017 – 1/28/2017
Wofford College Theatre
Spartanburg, SC