In Ugly Lies the Bone Mamie Gummer* plays Jess, an army veteran who returns from a third tour of duty in Afghanistan with disfiguring burns. Jess becomes a participant in a virtual reality pain management therapy trial. In the virtual world she embarks on a journey to help her acclimate to the world she left , which is now as damaged as she. Her sister is in a dysfunctional relationship, her mother is in a home because her mind is not quite right, her ex-boyfriend married and works in a convenience store and her town has been devastated by unemployment. Jess is just another damaged soul.
Although Jess’ suffering is apparent, it never became clear to me how the virtual world helped. She returned home from Afghanistan having built a protective wall around herself and it is only through interactions with the others that this wall is taken down. Told by a very good cast, Ugly Lies the Bone tries to be a 21st century story; but it just comes across as another play telling the age-old story about the healing power love. LAR
*Fans of American Horror Story Freak Show will remember Mamie’s sister Grace played a freak with facial tattoos. Is there sibling rivalry between the Gummer sisters when it comes to playing disfigured women?
Roundabout Theater – The Black Box Theatre, 111 West 46th Street
Ticket prices: $25
Discount tickets – available at times thru seat filler companies (Play-by-Play, Theatermania Gold Club, Theater Extras)
Running time: 80 minutes, no intermission
Runs thru: December 6, 2015