Two-time Oscar winner Dianne Wiest will return to her roots at The Public Theatre to star in the New York premiere of Naomi Wallace's One Flea Spare, opening there March 9 in Martinson Hall.
It was at the Public, in 1983, that she turned in a performance in The Art of Dining that won her the Obie, the Clarence Derwent Award and the Theatre World Award, catching Hollywood's eye.
Wiest will play a rich, elderly woman who, for a month in 1665 when the bubonic plague has hit London, is quarantined in her home with her spouse (Jon De Vries), a street waif (Mischa Barton) and a vagrant sailor (Bill Camp).
Paul Kandel, the Tony-nominated Uncle Ernie of Tommy, will round out the cast as the guard whose job it is to keep the quartet in quarantine.
Ron Daniels will direct the drama, as he did when it premiered at the Bush Theatre in London in October 1995. He previously directed another play by Wallace--her 1995 Mobil Prize-winning Slaughter City in its world premiere at The Royal Shakespeare Company and subsequently at Cambridge, MA's American Repertory Theatre, where he was assistant artistic director for five years. One Flea Spare marks the first time a play by the Kentucky-born Wallace has been presented in New York. She has been produced frequently in London as well as regionally in this country. Her next opus, an adaptation of William Wharton's novel Birdy, will take wing in the West End in early March.
Barton, who just turned ll on Friday, is remembered for her performances in Twelve Dreams and SLAVS. Camp is best known for the Shakespeare he has done at The Public, notably Twelfth Night and Kevin Kline's Hamlet. De Vries recently finished a run at The Second Stage in The Red Address.
-- By Harry Haun