Pay attention to Distracted


deborah san angelo

Lisa Loomer’s play, “Distracted” brings the world of multi-tasking to the stage by putting the audience in a state where they see the effects of distraction on others.

It begins as someone attempts to center herself through a meditative prayer, only to be jolted by interruptions from her cell phone and the screaming voice of her demanding child, Jesse, who is heard throughout the play but not seen until the end.

Jesse, played by Ari Vozaitis can’t sit still for a moment and doesn’t do what he’s told either at home or at school. He won’t even put on his pajamas because he doesn’t see the point of getting into them when he just has to get out of them the next morning. His mother, played by Kayla Kearney wants him tested for disorders but his father, played by Nathan Luft-Runner believes he’s only being a boy.

After Jesse is diagnosed with A.D.D., the satiric journey through multiple doctors and treatments reveals a larger topic of how we are all distracted from the lives we live because of sensory overload. With action churning on 3 large media screens and numerous hand-held gadgets, each scene was flooded with distractions: overcrowded thoughts and ideas with relentless stimuli from media criss-crossing throughout the dialogue. A generalized form of A.D.D. unfolds onstage as characters demonstrate their inability to focus, often not facing when talking to each other. They think their thoughts out loud, or think they did and refer to us in the audience as if we weren’t listening.

The effects are a credit to the skill of the production crew and staff, as well as the actors whose well-honed timing deepen the theatrical illusion.

Loop’s characters are fleshed out and expanded by actors who each bring their unique idiosyncratic personality to their role.

Kearney traverses a range of emotions as a mother struggling to figure out what is best for her son. But she, like her child, can never stay still. Her rollercoaster ride from doctor to doctor creates the mood of an urgent comedy.

Each spotlight on Dr. Zavola, magnificiently played by Govinda Taskey is a stand-up comedy routine in itself.

The humorous doctor characterizations created by Emma Hill and Brandon Douglas charmingly amuse as they fling around off-the-cuff diagnoses and prescribe everything from Ritalin to environmental cleansing.

The hilarious Sherry and Vera, played by Reba Crawford-Hayes and Jessica McAlister entertain with their own brands of obsessive-compulsiveness as they earnestly distract themselves from their own lives.

Sherry’s daughter, Natalie, played by Grace Kent is another hyperactive handful. She identifies with Jesse and vigorously tries to deal with her own capacities of growing up in fragmented style.

The brief but colorful appearances of Julie Schult and Tia Starr in alternating roles add splashes of comic relief to a stream of fast moving input.

Ari Vozaitis sits at the helm of the play, hidden yet driving it throughout. His appearance is nothing short of joyous at the end. Vozaitis plays Jesse Oct. 4, 6 and 12. Jordan Martin plays Jesse Oct. 5, 11 and 13.

See Distracted at Burbank Auditorium from Oct. 4 – 13. Curtain is at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m.