Review “Distracted”: A D-elightfully H-umorous D-iscovery
American Theatre Company presents
At 1909 W. Byron
Written by Lisa Loomer
Directed by PJ Paparelli
Thru February 28th
Running time: Two hours (includes one ten minute intermission)
Families sipping lemonade and counting the fireflies on the front porch has been replaced. Now, friends gather remotely to stay connected. From the privacy of their bedrooms, they can text pals, instant message classmates, download music, workout Wii – style and do homework. American Theatre Company presents the Chicago premiere of Distracted, where playwright Lisa Loomer asks the question “how can you diagnosis a child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in a society with a short attention span?” Distracted is a mother’s narrated struggle to determine: is her kid ADHD or high-spirited? Will medication squash his self expression? Or help him enjoy normal activities? What’s “normal” anyway? In a world vying for instantaneous attention, Distracted is the perfect two hour escape to laugh at your own lack of concentration.
Donna Jay Fulks is marvelous in the lead as mama. Fulks maintains an ongoing monologue about her investigation into the psychotic world of ADHD. Her storytelling is interrupted by hilarious distractions in the form of an obsessive-compulsive neighbor, burn-out teacher, screaming kid and crazy babysitter. Director PJ Paparelli skillfully navigates the cast and the scenery around Fulks allowing her to maintain a concentrated one sided conversation with the audience. The fourth wall completely disappears as one character “comes out” as an ADHD survivor and how Ritalin saved his acting career and cured his cocaine addiction. An entertaining ADHD lesson is an oxymoron! Distracted is the diversion exception. Loomer finds the funny in the world’s fixation with technology on demand, individualistic compliance, self medicating, and buying shoes on the internet.
From arrival at American Theatre Company, it’s distracting! Several broadcasting televisions mounted on steel frames are an intriguing confusion. Andre LaSalle (scenic designer) has designed an interestingly transit framework allowing furniture to be rolled in and out for specific scenes. The televisions are a major element to establish tone. Mike Tutaj (video designer), at times, has several different blaring channels vying for attention. Later, the uniformed video element on each screen aids in the serenity balance. It’s only right that television should be center stage for Distracted! TV dinners, “Must See TV”, Tivo, since its genesis, television has been a distraction addiction.
Mental illness isn’t anything to laugh at… unless you are at the theatre. Distracted gives you plenty of crazy psycho traits easily recognizable in yourself and others! Craft out two hours in your multi-tasking life to shut off your electronic devices and enjoy a good laugh at yours and others’ expense.
Sidetracked by a call from his sister during the show, Bill describes the show as “relatable, modern and surprisingly funny”.