BWW Review: COBB at Penguin Rep Theatre
If you're looking for a complex portrait of a man who was simultaneously worthy of praise and condemnation, look no further than Penguin Rep's Cobb.
While Cobb does shed light on the athletic and business-related accomplishments of mostly forgotten baseball player Ty Cobb, it also does not shy away from his faults. Although he was an exceptional player, Cobb had a violent, angry, and even racist streak. The audience does understand why he became so angry, as he explains that his mother killed his father when he was a teenager, but it never feels like an excuse for his subsequent behavior. That delicate balance between being able to understand his anger and to recognize the fault in his actions is what makes the play so unique and interesting.
The audience meets Cobb at three different stages (and nicknames) of his life: The Peach, a rookie pro ball player; Ty, a shrewd investor; and Mr. Cobb, an elderly man hoping to secure a positive legacy. Together, they discuss Cobb's life--everything from his unforgettable baseball career to the anger and violence he'd rather forget. But there's someone who won't let him forget: Oscar Charleston, better known as "the black Cobb," a black baseball player who had all the same talents as Cobb but who never played against him due to segregation of leagues. Charleston puts things into perspective for Cobb--Cobb thinks that his legacy is forgotten, but he was still the first player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, contrary to Charleston who was not inducted until 40 years later, long after he had died. The play showcases the complicated intersection of baseball, fame, and racial tension.
Photo credit: Dorice A. Madronero