A play in which the parents often seemed as “Distracted” as their 9-year-old son with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is on view through June 9 at Carpenter Square Theatre. Lisa Loomer's script was less a true comedy than it was a “problem play,” dealing with such things as multitasking, overmedication, lack of attention span and bad communications in our society.
All of which wasn't that funny or easy to enjoy in escapist entertainment terms, but it did make spectators think seriously about many of the issues it raised without ultimately resolving them.
Mona Campbell was outstanding as the mother who starts her days trying to meditate, but is soon overwhelmed by the distractions all around her and eventually loses her last client as an interior decorator.
Campbell conveyed her character's willingness to try almost anything to save her son, from homeopathy and behavior modification, to medications with disturbing side effects, and non-drug therapy out of state.
Supplying a good counterpoint to the mother's struggle to save her child and her marriage were the responses of David Burkhart as her husband, who often seemed in conflict with himself as well as her.
Not easy to like and sharing some of his son's inability to focus, Burkhart did get across the father's anti-drug stance and commitment to letting his child be a child, whatever his problems, in powerful terms.
A seventh grader at Whittier Middle School in Norman, Ian McDougall did a good job supplying more fuel to the already combustible family equation in the smaller role of their hyperactive son, Jesse.
McDougall was like a loose cannon or jack-in-the-box, shouting back or seeming to appear from nowhere, and offering often R-rated resistance to his parents' attempts to get him to finish mundane tasks.
Other members of the nine-person cast filled their multiple and individual roles well as doctors, therapists, nurses, neighbors, a teacher, a waitress and a babysitter. Andy Neill was comically annoying as a homeopathic physician who likes hugs a little too much — one of three quirky doctors he played during the evening.
Lana Henson was also memorable as a well intentioned but obsessive-compulsive neighbor, and CheyAnne Strickler gave a bittersweet undertone to a part as a babysitter who cuts herself.
Other assets were a just cluttered-enough set, cell phone-interrupted conversations and a screen that suggested the distractive power of television and similarity of the art in doctors' waiting rooms.
Less effective were brief asides during which actors shared their confusion in playing their roles directly with the audience — a theatrical device that at least served to underline the script's theme of distraction.
Not always easy to watch, conventionally humorous or entertaining, but consistently challenging and thought-provoking, “Distracted,” directed by Rhonda Clark, is well worth attending.
— John Brandenburg