BWW Review: USE ALL AVAILABLE DOORS by Pinky Swear Productions At Dupont Underground

BWW Review: USE ALL AVAILABLE DOORS by Pinky Swear Productions At Dupont Underground

Pinky Swear Production's Use All Available Doors is filled with a local pride that Washingtonians rarely get to experience. Our city is usually represented as a center of national power and corruption; we hardly ever see the stories of the normal District dwellers and every day Metro riders. But that's exactly what Use All Available Doors gives us. The production is staged in Dupont Underground, which is about as far atmosphere-wise from the vaunted halls of the capitol as possible. Unfortunately, this sense of hometown jubilation is hard to sustain through the too-long run time.

Use All Available Doors' main weakness is its episodic structure. The play follows a red line train on its journey from Shady Grove to Glenmont, and a different scene, each with a brand new set of characters, plays out between each stop. Some of these scenes have great potential. The surreal, primitive society that emerges on a broken-down train easily could have sustained a full evening of drama. The compelling and subtle interactions between a queer couple and one partner's father left me wanting more. But we never returned to characters once their scene had passed. This made it hard to invest emotionally in each scene.

Unfortunately, these really effective scenes were interspersed with musical numbers that added nothing to the overall production. The dance numbers felt especially out of place; they did nothing to advance any sort of plot and felt cramped and unimpressive on the tight set. Ultimately they felt like filler, added on so that each metro stop had a unique performance. The show would have been better served by a shorter run time and less musical fluff, even if it meant skipping some metro stops along the way.

It must be said that even with sometimes difficult material, the cast delivers solid performances. Lady Davonne, as metro train driver Sherry, is a real stand out. Sherry is the one recurring character, and Davonne delivers a compelling monologue at the end of the show that hits some beautiful emotional notes.

Props must also be given to Cresent Haynes' sound design and Katherine Offutt's stage management. So much of this show relies on sound: Metro announcements, the swish of train doors, and the music of buskers are all crucial to the rhythm of the show. The sound cues are all mixed and executed perfectly, and they go a long way in making the Metro train car on stage feel real.

The production team should also be applauded for its great use of the Dupont Underground space. Setting a play about Metro in a disused part of the transport system is a no brainer, but Pinky Swear takes this to the next level by creating engaging lobby displays that ask audience member to recount their favorite metro story and create a postcard describing their neighborhood.

Ultimately, Use All Available Doors is a mixed bag. If you need a little bit of D.C. love in your life, this show might be for you. Just don't expect a tightly constructed plot to await you at the end of your journey.

Use All Available Doors runs at Dupont Underground Thursdays - Sundays until May 6th. Runtime is a little under two hours. Get tickets here: https://www.culturaldc.org/events/2018/4/13/use-all-available-doors

Photo by Ryan Maxwell Photography

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From This Author Hannah Landsberger

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