Roundabout Underground, dedicated to producing new works by emerging playwrights, presents a drama about a traumatized US veteran home from Afghanistan who uses video game therapy to heal. More…
Newly discharged soldier Jess has finally returned to her Florida hometown. She brings with her not only vivid memories of her three tours in Afghanistan, but painful burns that have left her physically and emotionally scarred. Jess soon realizes that things at home have changed even more than she has. Through the use of virtual reality video game therapy, she builds a breathtaking new world where she can escape her pain. As Jess advances farther in the game, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself. 'Ugly Lies the Bone' explores the idea that no matter how much life may ask us to endure, what truly matters is finding the strength to survive—and to heal.
"It’s general seating so I’d recommend getting there early to snag a chair near the front — I sat first row center, which is my favorite place to experience theater, mostly free from the distraction of audience members...The supporting characters are well-drawn and engaging as played by a trio of great actors...I loved this play and can’t recommend it enough." Full Review
"Beautiful, richly textured new play...The final product is an uncommonly compelling depiction of not merely recovery, but also repentance and renewal, with an emphasis on how difficult it is — all without either cloying or exaggerating." Full Review
"The play confirms that Lindsey Ferrentino is a writer of dauntless conviction. This bracing drama, starring a superb Mamie Gummer, confronts an achingly topical issue with hardheaded honesty and admirable compassion...Despite the forthright depictions of Jess’s suffering and frustration, 'Ugly Lies the Bone,' directed by Patricia McGregor with careful attention to subtle changes in texture, retains a certain buoyancy." Full Review
"Promising playwright Ferrentino, director Patricia McGregor and Gummer present yet another portrait of a veteran returning from war. What's different about 'Ugly Lies the Bone' is that this is one of the few veteran-comes-home stories I've seen that focuses on a female veteran...Kudos to Ferrentino for shining a spotlight on a different side of a familiar story." Full Review
"An interesting look at how much trauma can change family and friends, and how deeply it can affect one’s life. A wonderful take on all that one must do in order to overcome the obstacles in their path. It also provides a fascinating look at the use of virtual reality technology...The story is realistic, and touches upon many different emotions...The entire cast plays off of one another so well, and their connections and relationships on the stage are moving, and quite solid." Full Review
"The entire cast plays off of one another so well, and their connections and relationships on the stage are moving, and quite solid. They have created a strong bond, and it’s incredible to see how well they interact and respond to each other. They really react and listen to what’s going on. The sets, props, and costumes compliment the characters in relation to their needs, and in furthering the story. There is an intent behind each change, and in how the lighting and sound effects are used." Full Review
"A familiar but important story...As fascinating as the virtual reality treatment is, what’s at the heart of Ferrentino’s play – and what works best — is Jess’s interaction with the other characters, and the way both she and they are adjusting to the inexorable passage of time and the changes it brings...The uniformly spot-on cast makes the characters credible and moving." Full Review
"Ferrentino is economical with her dialogue, packing both humor and sincere emotion — but Gummer offers an energetically charged and emotionally raw performance that brings the text to even greater heights...Ferrentino is at her best when writing through the tip of a laser: the insular world of pain, the claustrophobic routine of Middle America — this is the durable skeleton of 'Ugly Lies the Bone.'" Full Review
"'Ugly Lies The Bone' is clearly the work of a young talent with plenty ahead of her. It’s timely, compelling and as current as you could want. It’s also self-consciously bleak and overwrought. Jess’ return from the war doesn’t need the underlining it sometimes gets in Patricia McGregor’s alternately brisk and heavy-handed production." Full Review
"Working with what seems to have been an extremely limited budget, Patricia McGregor's directorial options are limited but Ferrentino has created nuanced characters and McGregor has gotten fine work out of her five-member cast...simultaneously overstuffed and slightly undercooked, but it's clear that the author has a curiosity about lives outside the theatrical mainstream and talent that should be nurtured." Full Review
"If 'Ugly Lies the Bone' sounds like the most depressing drama of 2015, I hasten to add that it isn't, partly because of Gummer's almost brutally unsentimental performance and because of the glints of spiky humor buried in Lindsey Ferrentino's script...The author is much better at suggesting the agony of Jess' life than in providing any hope...In the brief running time of 'Ugly Lies the Bone,' a bright young talent becomes a major force to be reckoned with." Full Review
"'Ugly Lies the Bone' is worthy but schematic...Patricia McGregor directs the strong ensemble with honesty and attention to detail...While 'Ugly Lies the Bone' addresses genuine contemporary issues, its reality is too streamlined and foursquare, too virtual." Full Review
"Everything that happens in the social scenes is banal compared to the therapy...The play drops so many levels it can hardly recover. That it keeps recovering anyway is mostly the result of the extraordinary performance of Mamie Gummer as Jess." Full Review
"Ferrentino's writing is deeply felt and often touching. But the play, running a brief 75 minutes, feels underdeveloped and strangely thin...The drama also suffers from the skimpy production values of the developmental theater...But the work does have truly affecting moments." Full Review
"Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino has given us a unique heroine, a female war veteran, and a fascinating real-life-based premise. Virtual reality? Show us more! Yet just as we start to fully visualize Jess’ simulated world, Ferrentino pulls back the curtain. And that’s it. " Full Review
See it if You are touched by veterans with disabilities, human compassion in times of crises and the family dynamic. Love brilliant acting.
Don't see it if You are squeamish about disfigurement, or you are subject to post traumatic stress disorder.
See it if you love theatre and want to see an intense and emotional performance from Mamie Gummer and the cast.
Don't see it if you'd rather not think or be moved and would rather see a "la la" piece.
See it if you want to see great acting. It's an absorbing story with profound themes. Emotional depiction of a wounded vet dealing with life back home
Don't see it if you don't like naturalistic acting, you don't like seeing someone in great physical pain. Realistic burn makeup makes you uncomfortable.
See it if You enjoy supporting new work. The playwright has a good ear for dialogue and fresh take on topics (disabled returning Vet). Great cast.
Don't see it if You dislike naturalistic themes, are unsympathetic to disabled/veteran themes, prefer more finished or "lofty" works
See it if you are passionate about veterans' issues, love dysfunctional families, love Meryl Streep's offspring.
Don't see it if you are defensive about Florida or are squeamish about burns.
See it if Watching Miss Gummer masterfully work through each scene as an injured war veteran is worth the penny in this thoughtful & touching new play
Don't see it if ULTB isn't the quickest moving play in New York- so if you're expecting rapid, witty, pace you'll be let down.
See it if An unsentimental exploration of a soldier's chronic pain therapy will keep you enthralled through all the banal situations. Gummer delivers.
Don't see it if If an 80 minute play skimming a vast and complicated subject will leave you thinking less isn't more. Play needs to be properly visualized.
See it if You'd enjoy a fine acting performance by Amy Gummer in a challenging role; you're interested in our female wounded warriors.
Don't see it if You want a fully seasoned story, rather than some very strong observations and good characters from a playwright with promise.
See it if you want to see a strong performance by Mamie Gummer. The script is lacking, but the premise (helping vets reacclimate) is compelling.
Don't see it if you want a fully polished, convincing play. ULTB needs work, but it has potential...especially if it retains its leading woman.
See it if you're looking for an original story, enjoy heavier topics (ie veterans & identity), & like intimate theater settings.
Don't see it if you want light themes, likable characters, & fast paced story telling. The themes are a bit heavy handed as well.
Get alerts about your favorite artists and theater companies