Review "One Flea Spare": Talented Cast is Bubonic!

Audio Podcast at ITUNES 
Narrated by Joshua Volkers
At Greenhouse Theater, 2257 N. Lincoln
Written by Naomi Wallace
Directed by Anish Jethmalani
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 2:30pm
Thru May 22nd
Running Time:  Two hours includes a fifteen minute intermission
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
What’s worse than being sick?  Not being sick and still quarantined with three strangers… including a spouse.  Eclipse Theatre Company presents ONE FLEA SPARE, the first Naomi Wallace’s play on the 2011 one playwright – one season schedule.  Death plagues 17th Century London.  An epidemic indiscriminately infests homes.  Fear topples the societal hierarchy.  Just as a wealthy couple tries to escape from the city, their home is compromised.  The uninvited arrival of a sailor and a girl cause a lock-down.  They are stuck together for the duration.  Forced isolation challenges the role of religion, authority, class, gender and marriage.  ONE FLEA SPARE burrows under the skin as a disease-ridden history lesson with biting humor.

Playwright Naomi Wallace knows how to plague a household!  At the forefront, the deadly era is illustrated with descriptive death stories.  Survival negotiations and quirky cure fads are a fascinating glimpse of the past reality.  (*Shopping* for a new dress has never been so creepy.)  At the epicenter of the public health crisis, Wallace introduces four distinct characters.  Wallace allows the characters to merge their past and present.  Through the slow evolutions, the audience continually collects unexpected tidbits for a full portrait of each person.  Even in the final scene, the girl’s dissertation shifts her picture again.  (How did she get that dress?)     

Under the direction of Anish Jethmalani, the talented cast is bubonic! They take in-depth characters and swell them up some more. With the ‘manners of a servant and mouth like a whore,’ Elizabeth Stenholt (Morse) is delightful as the precocious, mysterious girl. Stenholt buzzes with lively energy.  Her underlying enjoyment of various scenarios is unsettling.  JP Pierson (Bunce) charms as a rough-around-the-edges-sailor with the soul of a poet.  Pierson’s wistful voice haunts during his transformation from rogue to servant to gentleman.  Susan Monts-Bologna (Darcy) refines the house with an elegant sadness.  With beautiful resignation, Monts-Bologna permeates dignified shameful pride.  A wide-eyed Brian Parry (Snelgrave) hilariously bellows his beliefs.  Even in his most tyrannical rants, Parry exudes likability. He is like a gruff, racist, beloved uncle.  Zach Bloomfield (Kabe) is the buffoon in charge.  Bloomfield provides multiple laughs by  making a fortune off others’ misfortune.

Scenic and lighting designer Kevin Hagan effectively creates the mood and locale.  Hagan constructed a simple room with boarded-up windows.  The lit-up action takes place inside and outside the room.  The guard roams the parameter as observed by looking through the windows.  It’s just another way the show functions on multiple dimensions.  On many levels, ONE FLEA SPARE is a robust play that heals afflictions with radical treatment.  This FLEA causes an itch you should scratch!  Expose yourself to this plague!      

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