Spunk

Spunk at Court Theatre

Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston

Adapted by George C. Wolfe

Music by Chic Street Man

Directed by Seret Scott

At Court Theatre, Chicago

Hilarious, tuneful and poignant look at African-American culture in the rural South and in the Harlem Renaissance becomes a fun theatrical event.

Narrated and framed by Southern blues played deftly by Kelvyn Bell (Guitar Man) and sung soulfully by Alexis J. Rogers (Blues Speak Woman), Spunk unfolds as a funny yet poignant adaptation (by George C. Wolfe) of three short stories by Zora Neale Hurston – “Sweet,” “Story in Harlem Slang,” and “The Guilded Six-Bits.”

Spunk at Court Theatre

Under the sparkling and swift-paced direction by Seret Scott, Spunk is a winning presentation of Hurston’s folk tales that gives us a glimpse of rural Southern African-American life as well as a tribute to the Harlem Renaissance that features a hilarious verbal explanation of  Harlem jive talk.  The generous use of blues singing by Alexis J. Rogers to Kelvyn Bell’s emotional wrenching blues guitar work both underscore and enhances the vignettes.

Spunk at Court Theatre

In “Sweet,” we see Delia, (Patrese D. McClain) a longtime abuse victim by her husband (Chris Boykin), gethis just due. The hard life of depression Blacks in the South is vividly depicted.

In the second short story, “Story in Harlem Slang” features Kenn E. Head (Sweet back) and Michael Pogue (Boy) dressed in wildly colorful Zoot Suits battle to get loads of laughs by smart use of body language, eye movement and expert linguistic comic timing as the Harlem slang comes to life. This section is a hoot!

Lastly, Spunk presets “The Gilded Six-Bits,” a moving story of how a loving husband must forgive his wife for her betrayal.

Spunk is an extremely well performed work that gives all six cast members their moments to sparkle. Each are funny, empathetic and truthful. I was particularity impressed by  Michael Pogue and Kenn E. Head’s smart comic work. Spunk is a fun work that gives audiences a glimpse into a world that we probably have little contact with. This show is amazingly well presented.

Highly Recommend

Tom Williams

Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast

Date Reviewed: September 17, 2011

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Spunk page on www.theatreinchicago.com

At Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-753-4472, www.courttheatre.org, tickets $40 – $60, Wednesdays & Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 & 7:30 pm, running time is 2 hours with intermission, through October 9, 2011