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March 5, 2009


Lisa Loomer’s ‘Distracted’ superbly – and comically – focuses on ADD



NEW YORK (AP) – Focus, people. “Distracted” is worth the effort.


Lisa Loomer’s theatrical primer on Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a smartly comic, sharply observant and surprisingly humane play involving a 9-year-old boy and his bewildered parents, particularly his mother.


The production, which the Roundabout Theatre Company opened Wednesday at its off-Broadway Laura Pels Theatre, is also superbly directed by Mark Brokaw. He gives the exhaustingly detailed story a clarity that never falters despite the twists and turns of a rapidly unfolding plot.


Handling most of those details is the lovely Cynthia Nixon as the beleaguered Mom, referred to in the play as Mama. Nixon brings an appealing apprehension to this woman as she searches for help in dealing with her son Jesse, an overactive, overbearing young man given to fits of impatience and an occasional obscenity or two.


It’s the mother’s quest for answers that gives Loomer that chance to explain what ADD is – or as it is now called ADHD, adding the word “hyperactivity.” And how it can be alleviated.


Mama is willing to try anything to help her offspring, despite skepticism from various others, including her quixotic husband, portrayed by Josh Stamberg with growing impatience.


As he complains: “Impulsivity, short attention span, risk taking … these are symptoms – of childhood! Is childhood a disorder now?”


Loomer carefully presents various sides of the issue, complicated by the over-stimulated, plugged-in, totally wired world of today, where nothing lasts more than a minute or else is reduced to a sound bite.


That world is vividly portrayed in Mark Wendland’s mobile settings, aided by Tal Yarden’s high-tech projections and music and sound design of David Van Tieghem.


To read the entire review, click here: 


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