Bubonic plague subject of play, One Flea Spare

Bubonic plague subject of play, One Flea Spare When The University of South Dakota Department of Theatre presents One Flea Spare by Naomi Wallace, Nov. 3-7 at 8 p.m. in the Arena Theatre, it will be producing one of the most heralded new plays of this decade.

In 1996, One Flea Spare won the prestigious Susan Blackburn Prize for new plays and was referred to by playwright Tony Kushner as "one of the finest works of dramatic literature written here or in England in the last two decades." One Flea Spare has garnered this attention, in part, because of its subject matter.

The play is set in a virtually bare room during the Great Plague of 17th-century London. The aristocratic inhabitants are prisoners in their own home, waiting for the plague to pass. When outsiders slip into this room for their own protection, the safe house faces possible contamination.

A death watch begins as aristocrat and commoner, young and old, male and female struggle to survive. Using the mounting death count as a backdrop, Wallace masterfully depicts shifts in social roles and power as the characters seek to overcome the inevitable.

The cast includes Christine Bennett, Sioux Falls, as Morse, the protagonist whose story is revealed in flashback through the eyes of a 12-year-old girl, and Jim Hollerman, Vermillion, as Bunce, the sailor who mysteriously finds his way into this sanctuary. John Marinovich, Council Bluffs, IA, and Elizabeth Egan, Vermillion, portray the elderly Snelgraves, aristocratic owners of the house.

Pat Pope, Sioux Falls, plays Kabe, a watchman and guard whose odd humor and poetic pronouncements of statistics add a haunting quality to the action.

One Flea Spare is directed by Kathryn Burton Hollerman with costume designs by Bea Ulrich, sound design by Jeremy Olson, and scenery and lighting designs by Matt Strampe.

One Flea Spare is intended for mature audiences. General admission tickets are $5 for adults, $3 for senior citizens and youth, and $1 for USD students with ID. Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Call 605-677-5400.

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