Perhaps it was better that I didn’t see “Distracted” before I had children.
Part way through the play at Santa Rosa Junior College, the audience members may be tempted to ask, “How can anyone survive parenthood today? Or childhood, for that matter.”
The college’s Theatre Arts Department is kicking off its 2013/14 season with Lisa Loomer’s unsettling tale of a couple whose son has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD. What does he need? Behavior modification? Ritalin? Homeopathic therapy? The likeable mom is determined to find a fix. Her sometimes frantic search plays out in a modern setting where every child seems to have a diagnosis and every child and adult seems to have an electronic screen – large or small – to divert his/her attention.
The play’s unsettling nature comes partly from the F-word being frequently spouted to the mother by the 9-year-old son, who remains off stage until the very end. But the power of “Distracted” comes in raising a host of questions: What are we to make of ADHD? How do best we help our children on their way to adulthood? How distracted am I from what really matters? How can I find peace in a frenetic world?
Kayla Kearney holds the play together as the modern mother – mostly confident, occasionally overwhelmed. She is joined by a hard-working cast, including Nathan Luft-Runner, Emma Hill, Govinda Taskey, Reba Crawford-Hayes, Jessica McAlister, Brandon Douglas, Grace Ken, Julie Schuldt and Tia Starr. Jesse, the son, is played by both Ari Vozaitis and Jordan Martin.
The show ends this week at Burbank Auditorium, with 8 p.m. performances Thursday through Saturday and 2 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are available at 527-4343 or online at www.santarosa.edu/theatrearts.
Next up will be Les Miserables, Nov. 22 to Dec. 8; The Cherry Orchard, March 7-16; and Monty Python’s Spamalot, April 25 to May 4.
— Robert Digitale