Capital Fringe 2014 Review: ‘Ligature Marks’

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(Best of the Capital Fringe)

Ligature Marks presented by Gideon Productions playing at Redrum – Fort Fringe as a part of Capital Fringe 2014 is a bit tricky to describe without giving it away.

The 75 minute One-Act is listed as a comedy on the Capital Fringe site, and initially it seems like a dark comedy about two lost souls in a co-dependent relationship. What transpires in the most insane way springboards Ligature Marks into something wholly unexpected. Suddenly you’re in a crime thriller, a nightmare, a fantasy dream . . . all at once.

 Mac Rogers and Rebecca Comtois in 'Ligature Marks.' Photo by Deb Alexander.
Mac Rogers and Rebecca Comtois in ‘Ligature Marks.’ Photo by Deb Alexander.

If you’re looking for a twisted romance, ‘fringy’ Fringe show then look no further. This production indeed is what one could call a shape-shifting ride into the bizarre and extreme, and a Rock’em Sock’em good time.

Why the production is titled, Ligature Marks, is a curious one. I could get philosophical and ponder abstract rationalizations to the connection, but for nothing else Ligature Marks is attention grabbing. This dark comedy is a stylish signature genre play in the type of productions that Gideon Productions does best ‘crafting gripping plays that explore what’s strange about being human and what’s human about being strange.’

Directed by Jordana Williams and written by Mac Rogers, who also stars as one of the two leads (Terry) along with Rebecca Comtois (Jill), Ligature Marks is a two person, multi-character performance centered around a dysfunctional relationship (if you can call it a relationship) and a multi-player computer game titled NOIR.

So we have this super messed up couple. Let’s face it they are losers, and they describe themselves as such. “Losers can never resist the things that are bad for them,” says Terry.

Terry has just been released from prison after a two-year stint and all he wants to do is play his online multi-player game NOIR for the rest of his days. For reasons unknown to good sense or self-respectability (I’m not judging), Jill, an office manager, desires to be with Terry and she will do most anything to get him to spend time with her. She believes she can’t live without him.

Can Terry’s favorite online multiplayer game, NOIR, ensure she never has to?

On the surface, Ligature Marks is about two people whose lives are invaded by a noir-style story. Midway through the play shifts into a new genre – or maybe it’s a collision of several genres at once – and the twist is likely one you have never seen. The chemistry between Mac Rogers and Rebecca Comtois is undeniable, and the energy between them drives the action even when the majority of the scenes involve them sitting down on a couch or chair.

As a playwright, Rogers has crafted a clever, entertaining mystery and nifty psychological thriller. As a performer, Comtois is prone to delivering the majority of his lines at a high pitch utterance (even when he’s playing another character) and some finessing of the tonality would be welcomed. Comtois shines in multiple roles, highlighted by her portrayal of Jill where she has created a fascinating dichotomy with her character. She’s vulnerable yet engaging, needy yet surprisingly sympathetic and self possessed. Her layered portrayal throughout gives texture and nuanced context to Rogers writing and the balance Ligature Marks needs in this warped melodrama.

The suspense is tight and the emotions are intense in this twenty-first century howdunit. This is a love story and a crime story, but can the subtext of this transgressive human connection story evolve at the same time to a winning conclusion?

With any good noir, there is a delicious femme fatale; in this tale even that element has a twist. Jill is not a ‘gamer’ or an obvious game player, but this girl has a few role-playing moves of her own and she’s not to be underestimated. Can Terry a self-centered, online multiplayer gamer uncover his conscience and be something other than he has ever been?

Fusing dysfunctional reality with an online digital obsession, Ligature Marks is not your usual style of provocative storytelling but it is an original, edge – of – your – seat experience that you won’t want to miss.

Running Time: 75 minutes.

This show contains profanity. Recommended for adults only.

Ligature Marks plays through July 26 at Redrum – Fort Fringe – 610 L Street NW, in Washington, DC. For performance information and to purchase tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page

LINK:

Ligature Marks website.

 

 

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Sydney-Chanele Dawkins
Sydney-Chanele Dawkins is an award-winning feature filmmaker, film curator, film festival producer and a theater/film critic and arts writer. She also serves as an impassioned advocate for the Arts as Chair of the Alexandria Commission for the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Fearless. Tenacious. Passionate. Loyal. These characteristics best describe Sydney-Chanele's approach to life, her enthusiasm for live theater and the arts, and her cinephile obsession with world cinema. Her successful first film, 'Modern Love is Automatic' premiered at SXSW in Austin, Texas, and made its European debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival. She recently completed her third film, the animated - 'The Wonderful Woes of Marsh' - which is rounding the film festival circuit. In 2013, Sydney-Chanele produced the box office hit,Neil Simon's Rumors for the McLean Community Players at Alden Theater, Her next producing effort in 2014 is Pearl Cleage's 'Blues for an Alabama Sky' for Port City Playhouse. Programmer for Cinema Art Bethesda and Co Chair of the Film Program for Artomatic, Sydney-Chanele is the past Festival Director of the Alexandria Film Festival, the Reel Independent Film Festival,and Female Shorts & Video Showcase. She is active in leadership and programming positions with DC Metro area Film Festivals including: Filmfest DC, DC Shorts, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, Arabian Sights Film festival, and AFI Docs. Please feel free to contact me with your comments and questions - sydneychanele@gmail.com [Note: Sydney-Chanele Dawkins passed away on July 8, 2015, at age 47, after a battle with Breast Cancer.]