Theater review: 'Cobb' at the Lonny Chapman Theatre
Ty Cobb still holds some of the records he set while playing for the Detroit Tigers (1905-26), including an unofficial one: “the dirtiest player of all time.” His talent for stealing bases owed a lot to his habit of sharpening his spikes in the dugout, in full view of anybody who might come between him and home plate. Proudly racist, he once beat up a heckling fan for suggesting (in far cruder terms) that he had a black parent.
Yet the three Ty Cobbs in the Group Rep’s revival of Lee Blessing’s “Cobb” are charming hosts. Kent Butler is the retired “Mr. Cobb”; Daniel Sykes plays the brash rookie the press dubbed “the Georgia Peach”; and Bert Emmett is mid-career player “Ty.” Together in the afterlife, they look back on their career from three distinct perspectives, which are sometimes in tune and other times fascinatingly discordant. Blessing uses this device to reflect on how character changes over time, and the actors’ talent and Gregg T. Daniel’s warm, persuasive direction ensure that the Cobbs’ interactions feel not merely symbolic but touchingly real.
I was probably meant to see the three Cobbs' destiny as the more unpleasant, but they were so entertaining that I left with the impression that purgatory won't be so bad if I can relive my triumphs, nurse my regrets, laugh at my jokes, roll my eyes at my foibles and throw a ball around with two other me's.
“Cobb.” Lonny Chapman Theatre, 10900 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. In repertory. Ends April 7. $15-$22. (818) 763-5990. www.thegrouprep.com. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes.
Photo: Kent Butler, Daniel Sykes and Bert Emmett as the three Ty Cobbs in the Group Rep's "Cobb." Credit: Sherry Netherland