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Theatre Review: Ugly Lies The Bone @ The National Theatre


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Exploring Virtual Reality therapy, The National Theatre brings us Lindsey Ferrentino's new play Ugly Lies The Bone.

The play follows Jess as she returns from a tour in Afghanistan. Having been badly burnt whilst fighting in the army, she returns to Florida for rehabilitation.

Kate Fleetwood plays Jess, in a physically demanding performance that she delivers with little fault. She captures Jess's anger and sadness, but still allows us to see glimmers of the Jess before the accident. A very challenging role, which Fleetwood performs well.

Ugly Lies The Bone has a very strong ensemble. Two other stand-outs are Kris Marshall, (Love Actually, Death in Paradise) as Kelvin. His vocal quality is not that of a seasoned theatre actor. The Lyttelton Theatre is a vast space which needs a big voice to fill it - although nothing he said was lost it felt slightly forced compared to his fellow actors. That said, he supplies us with one of the best comedic performances, his quick one-liners and great timing are not all he offers us. Rather than just being the joke act of the production; he still gives us a well-rounded character.

Ralf Little as Stevie is the wonderfully sweet love interest of Jess. He again gives us a full and bold character of great humour.

However, the real stars of the show are Oliver Fenwick and Es Devlin who designed the lighting and set. Transporting the audience into the VR world that Jess becomes accustomed to is achieved flawlessly.

A dome like set which lights up to transport us to her town in Florida and her wintery VR universe. Cleverly achieved and bold.

The problem mainly lies in the disconnect between set, lighting and writing. Though impressive, it seemed the lighting and set was almost too bold for this American comedy-drama. It would be interesting to see the story explored in a smaller space so we could really feel Jess’ anguish and understand her PTSD further. You only see mere flashes of how it has affected her.

As a visual production, Ugly Lies The Bone truly is stunning. It has a very talented ensemble and is certainly worth a watch.

You can find out more here.

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