Have you ever wondered, “Who’s voice is behind the loudspeakers on the WMATA Subway?” Well, wonder no more. The voice is Sherry (played by Lady Davonne), a grieving daughter of a recently deceased mother, who is forced to confront the tough situations life threw her way. At least that’s the story told in the fresh and invigorating play written and produced by Brittany Alyse Willis.
Use All Available Doors is an homage to the living culture and people residing in the DMV and depicts the events of a day’s journey along the notorious Red Line, starting at Glenmont Station and ending in Shady Grove.
Spontaneity is the technique leaned on throughout this production. Bursts of song, dance, and monologues lift this expressionist piece to extreme heights. Willis’ play juggles the many phenomena lived while commuting among the turbulent tracks coursing through this metropolitan area.
Sherry, the main and only named character, embarks on her regular route, as she has done for several years. The only difference today is that she’s writing the eulogy for her mother’s burial service. As she reminisces about her past and the fond memories shared with her mother, passengers board and unload the subway car replicated on stage in the dark tunnels of the DuPont Underground.
Personally connecting with the countless characters is easily done, as each actor seems spectacularly ordinary, as though you would know them from your own days of riding the rails. As the eight-member ensemble carries out each event, the audience is propelled by a degree of familiarity that releases nodes of anxiety, which permeate the theater. Each scene depicts a “real-life episode” hitting home from beginning to end, which immerses the audience in a desire to escape the seemingly inescapable characters.
As a spectator, you quickly question the intent of this play. Are we chastising WMATA for the unceasing technical difficulties, long commute time, and train accidents? Or are we praising the billion dollar entity for the opportunities it affords one to interact with diverse, often ghettoized, DC dwellers?
Use All Available Doors does not shy away from the harsh realities and critiques of WMATA. The play explicitly addresses train accidents, gun violence, and black outs. Yet, the play softens and shows the joys of riding the train and the chance encounters leading to love.
This creative expression even takes viewers through time to illustrate the role WMATA has played in the progression of this region including the creation of jobs, exposure to differing walks of life and the introduction of art and professional sporting teams. As shown in this almost two hour play, since WMATA’s inception, it has played a vital role in our immediate society. However, as fare prices rise and average daily metro commuters decrease, the question quickly becomes, “What’s next for the future of WMATA?”
What viewers will most appreciate about Use All Available Doors is that it’s a refreshing and fun look at the most normal activity of life – commuting. The spoken words and choreographed dance numbers, paired with eclectic songs and points of views, make this short running show worth the commute.