Saturday, August 29, 2015

ONE FLEA SPARE • Slightly Askew Theatre Ensemble

SATE’s mid-season production of Naomi Wallace’s “One Flea Spare” feels aptly at home in the intimate space of The Chapel. Her introspective account of the inhabitants in a home under a 28-day quarantine in bubonic plague-ravaged London evokes images that stick in your mind. Under the direction of Ellie Schwetye, the calamitous breakdown of society and the classes are hauntingly brought to life.

Mr. and Mrs. Snelgrave (Joe Hanrahan and Kelley Weber) are a wealthy couple not allowed to leave their house, with frequent visits and grim updates from Kabe (Andrew Kuhlman), a crooked, city appointed guard charged with keeping the quarantine enforced, and handing out meager provisions to those still living.
Hannah Ryan (Morse), Charlie Barron (Bunce),
Kelley Weber (Darcy), Andrew Kuhlman (Kabe)
and Joe Hanrahan (Snelgrave).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell, Rumzoo Photography
The Snelgraves find themselves with unexpected guests -- twelve-year-old Morse (Hannah Ryan), who has snuck in claiming to be the only survivor of a neighboring family, and Bunce (Charlie Barron), a sailor looking to break away from the Royal Navy whom Snelgrave takes on as a servant, since he has lost his previous servants to the plague.

The Black Death has laid everyone low, and the holders of power and status shift among these four tentative housemates as the tension within the house grows, and the world outside their walls crumble. Hanrahan is excellent as Snelgrave, an entitled man who bonds with Bunce over their love of the sea, but asserts his privilege whenever he gets the opportunity. Weber plays Darcy Snelgrave with a quiet longing as a woman with a few secrets, stuck in a marriage devoid of any passion.
Joe Hanrahan (Snelgrave) and Charlie Barron (Bunce).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell, Rumzoo Photography
Kuhlman turns in a strong performance as a corrupt, lusty guard who relishes his new found authority. Ryan has an open-faced charm as a candid young girl whose maturity belies her years, and Barron disappears into his role as Bunce, slightly menacing under the surface but compassionate and tender in his confrontations with Darcy.

The play is also greatly benefitted by the production’s unadorned set and gloomy atmosphere. Bess Moynihan and Schwetye’s raised wooden platform and just a few set pieces, surrounded by haze and stark lights perfectly set the mood, with Elizabeth Henning’s costume design and subtle sound design by Kareem Deanes to add to the mix and transport you to the 17th Century.

It’s an eerily engaging play, superbly staged. Don’t miss it. One more chance.

Kelley Weber (Darcy), Hannah Ryan (Morse),
Joe Hanrahan (Snelgrave) and Charlie Barron (Bunce).
Photo credit: Joey Rumpell, Rumzoo Photography

Written by Naomi Wallace
Directed by Ellie Schwetye
through August 29 | tickets: $15 - $20
Performances Wednesdays to Saturdays at 8pm

Hannah Ryan (Morse), Charlie Barron (Bunce), Joe Hanrahan (Snelgrave), Kelley Weber (Darcy) and Andrew Kuhlman (Kabe).

Scenic design by Bess Moynihan and Ellie Schwetye; lighting design by Bess Moynihan; costume design by Elizabeth Henning; Sound design by Kareem Deanes; props by Rachel Tibbetts; set construction by Jon Hisaw; dramaturg, Taylor Gruenloh; stage manager, Kristin Rion.

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