Theater Review: “Distracted”

While I don’t pretend to be qualified as a theater critic, why should I let that hold me back – at least when I run across a production that is so beautifully and engagingly relevant?  Over the weekend, my wife and I went to see “Distracted,” a production of the Underground Railway Theater at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge.  I left thinking I’ve got to spread the word on this production to those in our community with an interest in special education.  The play – written by Lisa Loomer and directed by Wesley Savick – is a wonderfully funny/sad and very, very savvy treatment of a family wrestling with all the issues that arise around a child with ADHD, within a culture that is itself afflicted in so many ways with the confusion and distraction of multiple simultaneous stimuli.  The story could easily have veered into slapstick or worse, but the dialogue and action were spot on, and in the hands of an extremely skilled company of actors the tone held perfectly and poignantly to the line between comedy and tragedy.  The author obviously took the trouble to get her facts straight on the many factors that impact a family around a child with ADHD – medical, educational, genetic, therapeutic and social – and the resulting experience is educational, thought-provoking and moving.  As the Artistic Director of the Underground Railway Theater, Debra Wise (a superb actor in her own right), noted: “Though Distracted includes information, it does not set out to inform, but rather to invite and provoke.  We laugh at its characters and see ourselves, trying to fix problems with ingenious tools of our own invention – medicine, technology.  How do we sort hope from hubris?”

The play is scheduled through June 2.  Hope you can make it!

Robert Crabtree is a partner in the Special Education & Disability Rights practice group at Kotin, Crabtree & Strong, LLP in Boston, Massachusetts.