Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern


Also see John's reviews of The Quarrel and Suds - The Rocking 60's Musical Soap Opera

Stephen G. Anthony and
Laura Turnbull

As the recipient of a grant from the state of Florida to produce a play dealing with health and wellness in our community, The Caldwell Theatre proudly presents Distracted by Lisa Loomer. The story revolves around a mother and father coping with their nine-year-old-son who is diagnosed with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder). The parents exhaust themselves trying every conceivable treatment currently available: homeopathy, environmental modification, behavioral therapy and medication. Along the way, they try not to lose their patience, their sanity, and their love for each other and their child.

ADHD is a developmental, childhood condition affecting certain areas of the brain that allow problem solving, planning ahead, understanding others' actions, and impulse control. An estimated 3 to 5% of children globally have ADHD, with 30 to 50% of those individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to have symptoms into adulthood. According to Wikipedia, approximately 4.7% of American adults live with ADHD. While it is treatable through behavioral therapy and medication, controversy surrounds the best course of action, particularly when it comes to children. For this production, the Caldwell has supplied a resource table in their lobby filled with information from ADHD related local support groups, physicians, school programs, and educational forums; and sponsored a series of talk-back sessions featuring local speakers on ADHD.

Lisa Loomer's clever writing make the potentially cumbersome subject matter of this play completely palatable. Mama (Laura Turnbull) begins the play with a conversation with herself to the audience. This speaking directly to the audience, as a representation of the ongoing conversations in her own head, ingratiates her character and is her own version of being "distracted." Turnbull convincingly embraces the role in both the happiest and most frustrating of moments. She is well paired with Stephen G. Anthony as Dad. Though the script deprives them of any romantic moments, they fit together with the comfortability of a couple who have known each other a long time.

Michael McKeever is truly funny in his "Dr." roles (Dr. Broder/Dr. Jinks/Dr. Karnes), but is most ideally matched with more clever writing by Looomer as the Actor with ADD, who breaks character mid-scene to discuss his own history of ADD with the audience and fellow cast members. Kim Cozort is great as Dr. Waller on the verge of a divorce, but flounders with a fluctuating accent as neighbor Sherry, and never commits fully to her role as the teacher Mrs. Holly. Lela Elam is wonderful as the Nurse, but comes off as fake in her concern as Dr. Zavala. Newcomer Nikki Bromberg is perfect as Natalie. Her painfully thin figure and frenetic behavior personifies a teenager fighting issues from an eating disorder and cutting, to endless amounts of medication attempting to correct her own ADHD behavior.

Distracted movingly depicts the ways in which the quest to find the answer to solving ADHD can tear apart a family. The ending is a bit naïve, however, in its temporary fix of resolving to simply love and appreciate the child as a solution. This is the beginning, but not the solution. Whatever the solution may be, Distracted is a fresh and cleverly written play filled with valid observations on a valid current topic.

Distracted had its world premiere at the Mark Taper Forum, and was produced at the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City on February 7, 2009. Lisa Loomer's other works include Living Out, The Waiting Room, Expecting Isabel, Broken Hearts, Birds and the screenplay for Girl Interrupted.

Distracted will be appearing through May 16, 2010 at the Caldwell Theatre. The Caldwell Theatre Company is a professional theatre company hiring local and non-local Equity and non-Equity actors. The Caldwell Theatre Company is designated by the State of Florida as a Cultural Institution and receives funding from the State of Florida through the Florida Department of State, the Florida Arts Council and the Division of Cultural Affairs. The Caldwell Theatre Company is located in the Count De Hoernle Theatre at 7901 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton, FL. Performance times are Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM, and Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For information and/or tickets you may contact them by phone at 561-241-7432 or online at

Mama: Laura Turnbull*
Jesse: Brian Inerfeld
Dad: Stephen G. Anthony*
Dr. Waller/Mrs. Holly/Sherry: Kim Cozort*
Dr. Zavala/Carolyn/Nurse: Lela Elam*
Vera/Waitress/UPS: Kim Ostrenko*
Dr. Daniel Broder/Dr. Jinks/Dr. Karnes/Actor with ADD: Michael McKeever*
Natalie: Nikki Bromberg

Crew:Director: Clive Cholerton
Scenic Design: Tim Bennett
Lighting Design: Chris Hill
Costume Design: Alberto Arroyo
Projections: Sean Lawson
Stage Manager: Robert Herrle*

*Indicates member of the Actor's Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States.

Photo: Sean Lawson

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere