By Melissa Rose Bernardo
Updated March 05, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST
Joan Marcus

The night I attended Distracted — Lisa Loomer’s hyperintelligent and well-intentioned but ultimately unsatisfying meditation on parenting and pharmaceuticals — one audience member got a little too into the proceedings. Dad (Josh Stamberg) and Mama (a sublime Cynthia Nixon) are engaged in yet another disagreement over how to treat their Attention Deficit Disorder-diagnosed 9-year-old (played by a mostly offstage Matthew Gumley). ”School’s a bore!” yells Dad. ”Bravo!” declares a man in row F. ”Especially for a kid like Jesse who can’t stand to sit there putting commas in sentences that don’t mean anything to him or anybody else.” ”BRAVO!” shouts the man. Other theatergoers shift in their seats, chuckle, and think, ”Ah. He must have ADD!”

Later, Mama accuses Dad of having ADD. Dad venomously diagnoses her and her mother. The neighbor’s son has it; thankfully, Ritalin saved the about-to-be-bar-mitzvahed boy — ”without it, he couldn’t get through ?Baruch atah adonai’.” (For her part, the judgmental woman — played by Mimi Lieber — has food issues; she’s on Prozac. And her bipolar teenage daughter cuts her arms up with a razor; she’s gone through Prozac, Risperdal, Depakote, and Trileptal.) The other neighbor’s son has some sort of anxiety disorder; he’s on Zoloft. He used to be on Prozac, like his obsessive-compulsive mom (Lisa Emery). As an extremely timely depiction of overmedicated, over-stimulated America, Distracted succeeds brilliantly. But the too-tidy ending undercuts the carefully constructed chaos of the previous two hours. Cranking up Eminem’s ”Mockingbird”? Genius. Sending Nixon’s heretofore fantastically constructed, eminently believable Supermom into Afterschool Special territory? Loomer — who created a doctor’s office full of memorable women in her 1996 play The Waiting Room and a terrific pair of embattled mothers in 2003’s Living Out — is much smarter than that. B-

(Tickets: or 212-719-1300)