Friday, April 23, 2010

"Distracted" by ADHD at Caldwell Thteatre

Caldwell Theatre Company continues its exploration of contemporary issues with a dramatic comedy, “Distracted,” running through May 16 at 7901 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.
Playwright Lisa Loomer has taken a challenge faced by many in modern life and crafted it into a comedy that provokes and educates.
That challenge is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), a common disorder that seems to have reached epidemic status.
ADHD (also called ADD) is most often diagnosed in young boys, though it can occur in girls and adult men and women.
Lisa Loomer is the mother of a son who was around the same age as the boy in her play when it was written. She did extensive research on ADHD and designed a play that is both entertaining and educational- oh yes, and quite funny.
Nine-year-old Jesse Cara (Brian Inerfield) isn’t the only “Distracted” person in this play.
Dad (Stephen G. Anthony) is always doing several things at once: talking, texting, or playing a laptop video game, all while watching television.
This is very frustrating for Mama (Laura Turnbull), who has to deal with Jesse’s outbursts, disrespectful attitude, foul mouth and inability to focus on tasks as simply getting dressed for school.
Reading between the lines we can guess that if Dad had been born today, he would have been diagnosed with ADHD. Because he was an ants-in-the-pants, hyperactive boy, Dad feels it is all perfectly normal.
In desperation, Mama visits a series of “experts” who not surprisingly, offer conflicting advice.
Doctors are a rich source of humor, as the doctor’s office experience is universal.
Director Clive Cholerton has cast some of South Florida’s best actors to play these characters.
It warms the heart to see Kim Cozort back on the Caldwell stage after she and her husband Ken Kay were in “exile” (but a very good kind), in Blowing Rock, NC for nine years.
Cozort plays three characters: imperious Dr. Waller, Jessie’s frazzled teacher Mrs. Holly and New Yawk neighbor Sherry, and she gives a distinct comic spin top each one.
Likewise Lela Elam is the officious Dr. Zavalla as well as a neighbor, Carolyn and a nurse.
Playwright/actor Michael McKeever takes the comic cake as three increasingly eccentric doctors and a fourth wall-breaking actor with ADD.
Versatile Kim Ostrenko is a neighbor friend Vera as well as yeoman duty as a waitress and a UPS delivery person.
Finally there is Jesse’s teenage babysitter Natalie (Nikki Bromberg), a girl with some pretty serious disorders of her own.
Lots of serious issues are raised between the yucks: holistic therapy vs. prescription drugs, psychological counseling, the role of information overload and media bombardment and the sheer frenzy of modern life.
There are no easy answers. I came away with the thought we should not be too quick to medicate just to shout a kid up and make him or her docile. Parents should exercise tolerance and patience and above all, pay more attention to their kids.
You may come away with a different conclusion, and Caldwell Theatre is making it easier by providing a series of talk-backs with the director, cast and experts, and a Lunch and Learn April 29.
Tickets are $34-$55 (students $10). Call 561-241-7432 or 877-245-7432 or visit

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