TO MAY 20

Kadejah Higdon’s keening, gutsy, full-throated vocalizing and C.W. “Pops” Harrington’s nimble guitar riffs are the big draws in Spunk, Metropolitan Ebony Theatre’s amiable mounting of three Zora Neale Hurston tales. As adapted for the stage by George C. Wolfe, Hurston’s language has so much musicality that the leap to actual notation feels entirely natural. When Higdon conjures up the mood of a Harlem Renaissance speakeasy with a bluesy growl that morphs into a sharply articulated rant on why men just don’t “get” women, you can’t help sensing that there’s something primal at play. Hurston’s stories give the singer lots to work with—everything from marital-mayhem-by-rattlesnake to the posturings of Harlem pimps (in scarlet-pinstripe and canary zoot suits) to an oddly poignant tale of tossed coins and infidelity made right again. The fledgling company’s acting is a tad uneven in spots, but the performances are still energetic enough to rouse the crowd. And if Cheryl Collins’ inventive-on-a-budget staging doesn’t entirely overcome the institutional disadvantages of an overly wide stage and overly large auditorium, she’s found clever strategies for making the house feel intimate when necessary. Perhaps more important, though, whenever something grander is called for, she has the undeniable good sense to let Higdon cut loose with a brassily belted blues tune. Spunk (Jonathan Pope and Kevin Jiggetts are pictured) plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 11, to Sunday, May 13, and Thursday, May 17, to Saturday, May 19; matinees at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, May 19, and Sunday, May 20, at Prince George’s Community College’s Hallam Theater, 301 Largo Road, Largo. $15-$20. (301) 322-0444. (Bob Mondello)

More from WCP