Cobb Hits a Home Run

From l, Kent Butler and Jason DeLane in “Cobb.”

Toplined by an excellent cast, the Group Rep’s production of Cobb hits a home run in analyzing the life and career of this cantankerous and despised baseball star.

The presentation shows Cobb (Kent Butler) stepping out of time to address himself at various stages in his life. He is also constantly shadowed by an equally talented player from the African American League (Jason DeLane).

Writer Lee Blessing’s Cobb is a nice meditation on celebrity and what influences shape successful individuals and their personalities, setting the trajectory for their careers. Anger at events in the past make him a ferocious ballplayer, but also a hateful person.

Director Lee Daniel builds a nice rhythm into the proceedings, and takes an occasionally seventh inning stretch to allow time for digestion. He creates dynamic compositions of the players, often representing a baseball diamond, to help shape the story.

The fine cast reflects the various aspects of Cobb’s personality. Butler represents the older and wise man, reflective and a little playful. Bert Emmett is the arrogant, conceited middle aged Cobb, channeling his immense drive into screwing others in business deals. Daniel Sykes plays the intense, energetic young ballplayer, angry but also able to love. DeLane ruefully portrays Oscar Charleston, Cobb’s Negro League counterpart, just as talented but forgotten to history.

Design work is outstanding, from Steve Shaw’s fine sound design, Sabrina Beattie’s nice lighting, Chris Winfield’s excellent baseball field set, to Liz Nankin’s beautiful and elegant costumes.

Group Rep presents Cobb through April 7 at the Lonny Chapman Theatre located at 10900 Burbank Blvd. in North Hollywood. The show runs an alternating schedule of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday performances. Please check www.thegrouprep.com or call (818) 700-4878.


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