So what is Ligature Marks, exactly? What will you experience if you set aside 70 minutes amid your busy Fringe schedule to come see it? Well, it’s a bit tricky to explain without giving too much away.
Ligature Marks is in the comedy section of the Capital Fringe guide, and that’s not inaccurate – there’s a lot of comedy in the show. For a while, as you watch, you’ll think you’re seeing a particularly dark comedy about two of life’s losers in a hopelessly codependent relationship. But then… something kind of insane happens. And suddenly you’re watching a crime thriller. And a nightmare. And a beautiful dream. All sort of happening at the same time.
I’ve always loved noir crime stories. Not detective stories, but tales of desperate people who want out of their crappy lives so badly that they’re willing to risk it all on one criminal act – a murder, a theft – that they believe will be their ticket to a fresh, new, beautiful life. But once they’ve committed the crime, things start going wrong. Because that’s human nature. People turn on each other. Lies become harder to remember. You need new lies to cover up the old ones. And once you start lying to everyone else, you start to believe that everyone else is lying to you. You don’t trust anyone, even your co-conspirators. You’re isolated, alone – more desperate for escape than you were before committing the crime.
I’ve always found these stories electrifying. They speak to a fantasy, escape from a loveless or paycheck-to-paycheck experience, or both. But they also speak to my sense of human nature. Which is that we screw things up, that we can’t keep track of our lies, that we make bad choices – but we do all that in the pursuit of big, beautiful dreams of love, security, and happiness.
Jill and Terry, the “heroes” of Ligature Marks, each have their own versions of those dreams, but of course they don’t match with each other’s. At all. Which triggers some pretty twisted developments.
When I came up with the idea of an online multi-player noir game – like World of Warcraft, but based on noir crime instead of fantasy – I fell in love with the notion of a game designed to be lost. A game for losers, one in which there’s deliberately no way out. It’s one of the things video games and noir have in common: they both draw their appeal from our underlying sense that we’re not in control of our own lives – financially, professionally, or romantically.
When the twist happens in the middle of Ligature Marks – when the play shifts into a new genre, or maybe several new genres at once – the comedy edges into edge-of-the-seat suspense and intense emotion. It’s a strange, genre-bending cocktail of a play, but it works. Audiences at three festivals already have gone nuts for it, and you can read a huge number of rave reviews we’ve gotten online at LigatureMarks.com. This is a love story, a crime story, and a human connection story for the twenty-first century – and very likely unlike any play you’ve seen before. We hope you’ll check us out.
Ligature Marks is onstage at Redrum, 610 L St NW, Washington, DC, 20001
Performances are: July 18 at 8:00pm, July 20 at 6:30pm, July 22 at 7:00pm,
July 24 at 9:45pm, July 26 at 2:00pm
Details and tickets or call 866-811-4111.
— Guest writer Mac Rogers is an award winning playwright from Brooklyn, New York