Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Let the Devil Take the Hindmost” at the SoHo Playhouse

Off-Off-Broadway Review: “Let the Devil Take the Hindmost” at FringeNYC 2016 at the SoHo Playhouse (Closed Tuesday August 23, 2016)
Written by Maya Contreras
Directed by Lorca Peress
Reviewed by
Theatre Reviews Limited

Among the shows opening the FringeNYC 2016 season is “Let The Devil Take the Hindmost,” a new play by Maya Contreras who – in a program note from the playwright – shares that she penned the play in response to the horrific crimes fueled by systemic and institutionalized racism. It deals with a family that, in resolution, blames its dysfunction and destruction on the racially provoked murder of matriarch Vera’s father when she was fifteen when he ventured outside his neighborhood to get her ice cream. Unfortunately, the few minutes allocated to this disclosure does not validate Vera’s alcoholic self- destruction or the need to merely touch upon a vast array of other equally important issues. Set in Washington D.C. in 1969, the script loses focus and sabotages itself when delving into topics such as the Viet Nam War, infidelity, dementia, unwed motherhood, protests, political unrest, civil rights, and alternative lifestyles, all of which have no bearing on the effect of the aforementioned past tragedy.

 At times the plot seems implausible given the situation and circumstances. Vera is African American and her husband is Latino. She is a high school mathematics teacher, he is a college professor and their daughter is a college graduate living on the lower east side of Manhattan. They are an affluent, mixed race couple. They are intelligent, aware, employed, married for twenty-four years and have obviously had to overcome many obstacles to achieve their present status. To suddenly have this revelation that she is scarred by racism and to have a deep seeded anger surface to destroy herself and her family seems unlikely. It is difficult to have much compassion for the under-developed characters without having some insight into their personal family history. The meaning of the proverbial title of the show indicates that those who lag behind will receive no aid, and can certainly be significant to this production on many different levels.