a kate west review
by Lee Blessing
directed by Joe Brancato
Trigger Street Productions
at the Falcon Theatre, 4252 Riverside Drive, Burbank 91505
runs September 10 - October 6
contact (818) 955-8101 or www.falcontheatre.com
Lee Blessing (author of "A Walk in the Woods") presents "Cobb", a fictional account of a real legendary baseball player, Ty Cobb, who passed away in 1961. Surrounded by a storm of controversy for most of his life, the irascible Cobb was impossible from Day One. With Kevin Spacey's help (famed actor and head of Trigger Street Productions), Blessing brings his Off-Broadway work to Burbank. With "Cobb", Blessing attempts to inject regret into the way Cobb lived his life, by creating three versions of Cobb, the old, the prime and the young. Played by three different actors, they all interact and try to gain insight into the life of one man. Thrown into the mix is Oscar Charleston, a Homestead Gray player, from the start of the Negro Leagues.
Michael Cullen, Matthew Mabe and Michael Sabation play the three Cobbs, with Cullen being the primary focus, as the oldest most reflective Cobb. Richard Brooks ("Law and Order") is Oscar Charleston, the "black Ty Cobb" who challenges old Cobb in one of his visions, suggesting that had they lived in integrated times, he would have whopped him in any contest. Cobb's realizations about himself center on his realizations that given the chance, he might have done things differently. And of course, the two younger Cobbs pay no attention to the rantings of an old man.
The actors are all strong and Joe Brancato directs with a sure hand. Blessing's writing is good, although some parts drag. Scenic Designer Matthew Maraffi and Costume Designer Daryl A. Stone create a nostalgic atmosphere with projected images of Cobb on the walls and historical baseball uniforms. All in all, "Cobb" is a contemplative piece and fairly interesting, especially if you're a baseball fan. It is rather sad to think that someone so vilified ended up in the Baseball Hall of Fame, friendless and full of regrets. Too little, too late, after such a violent life full of anger and resentment. Not as sharply political and poetically lyrical as "A Walk in the Woods", "Cobb" has some nice moments, though it's not particularly ground breaking.
(left to right: Michael Cullen, Matthew Mabe, Michael Sabatino; photo courtesy Wesley Horton)
(left to right: Michael Cullen, Richard Brooks; photo courtesy Wesley Horton)
(Charles M. Conlon's famous picture of Cobb stealing third during the 1909 season.)