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Cobb
The Falcon Theater
By Lee Blessing
Directed by: Joe Brancato

Theater when it's bad, like say a hole in the wall production of Richard the 3rd starring a woman as Richard spewing Shakespeare's noble lyrics as one would a shopping list on Quaaludes (actually presently continuing on a Los Angeles stage), or a Neil Simon interpretation designed by Quintilian-esque actors lacking only their own portable laugh track (thankfully dark -indefinitely from an off-Broadway stage), can be worse than gratuitous root canal sans the Novocain or a double blind date and you went in one car.

Good theater, like Lee Blessing's brilliant Cobb, however, can make you feel like dancing a jig in the street to work out the adrenaline rush. Pure entertainment that reminds you to support the arts because these "Cobbs" are still out there...

What makes the Falcon Theater/TriggerStreet's Production of Cobb so invigorating is the delectable cast of four that volley about the diacritic words written with grace and ease. They have no fancy stage set - though it's clever. They have neither dramatic costume changes nor a melodic soundtrack directing your psyche. No it's talent mixed with all the words and emotions properly delivered that bolt you, mesmerized, to your seat. Frankly, Cobb's cast is so well oiled at times the rhetoric was awe inspiring for humble thespian addicts such as I.

Cobb, as you may already suspect, is about baseball bad boy and braggart Ty Cobb. But more than a simple biography Blessing has weaved a ghost tale with a historical spine into a thoroughly intriguing yarn. The Hall of Famer Ty Cobb is presented in three forms, at the same time; the elder sickly ornery Mr. Cobb played by Drama Desk Award winning Michael Cullen, the young spitfire version "Peach" played by Matthew Mabe (who looks -here- as if he actually stepped off a 1912 baseball card), and the middle-aged blunt take-no-prisoners Ty played by Michael Sabatino. The final "Cobb" is legendary Oscar "The Black Cobb" Charleston played by Richard Brooks.

Each actor ricochets off each other with Blessing's words, directed by Joe Brancato, as if in a verbal game of high stakes round-robin catch. Timing is exact and the performances glorious. We are privy to not just to a couple of ball players' life stories, but also their sad demons, heartfelt regrets, their inability to grow and the consequences that inevitably result for good or bad.

Hopefully Cobb will find its way onto more stages, with this great a cast, so theater goers can experience theater as it is meant to be; refreshing, entertaining and a perfectly compact bit of escapism. It's a triple header, bottom of the ninth, the bases are loaded and Cobb's just whacked another homer. This time into the theater outfield. Bravo!

 

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