The first North­eastern the­atre pro­duc­tion of the aca­d­emic year, “One Flea Spare,” tells a dark, claus­tro­phobic story of 17th-​​century Lon­doners who have been quar­an­tined as part of the city’s efforts to pre­vent the spread of the bubonic plague.

At the begin­ning of the play, this wealthy couple is just about to escape from being quar­an­tined when a sailor and a young girl break into the house,” said Alannah O’Hagan, a the­atre major who plays the wife in the pro­duc­tion. “And then sud­denly they’re there for another 28 days.”

It turns out that 28 days is approx­i­mately how long the play’s five actors — the four under quar­an­tine, plus their guard — had to pre­pare for the pro­duc­tion. The play opened Tuesday in Northeastern’s Studio The­atre, the black box per­for­mance space located between the Curry Stu­dent Center and Ell Hall. The small ensemble cast, like the char­ac­ters they por­tray, spent much of the last month together.

It’s a very rich piece of lit­er­a­ture,” said director Janet Bobcean, an asso­ciate pro­fessor and pro­ducer in the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design’s the­atre depart­ment. “The play, by Naomi Wal­lace, is based on a John Donne poem, from which she develops very com­plex char­ac­ters and really rich metaphor.”

The four char­ac­ters under quar­an­tine spend the entire play in a single room posi­tioned five feet off the ground — a phys­ical bar­rier between the audi­ence and the quar­an­tined char­ac­ters. The guard patrols the space in between, respon­sible for keeping those inside under lock and key.

That really trans­lates to what this play is about,” said Rachael Ulrich, a the­atre major who plays Morse, a 12-​​year-​​old girl who was forced into the quar­an­tine. “As actors we’re stuck, just like these characters.”

The char­ac­ters, who come from dra­mat­i­cally dif­ferent social and eco­nomic back­grounds, must con­front their dif­fer­ences and solve the con­flicts they create over the course of the quar­an­tine. That allows the play, Bobcean said, to con­front issues that applied not only in 17th-​​century Eng­land but which remain in our world today.

And what sur­rounds all this is a society already brought to its knees by the plague,” Bobcean said. “Thou­sands and thou­sands of people were dying each year, on top of every­thing else that was hap­pening in London at this time.”

One Flea Spare” runs through Sat­urday, Oct. 20, in Northeastern’s Studio The­atre. Tickets start at $12 and can be pur­chased online or at the North­eastern box office.