Review Round Up: Ugly Lies the Bone, National Theatre

The National Theatre is currently presenting Lindsey Ferrentino’s new play directed by Indhu Rubasingham. But what have critics been making of it? 

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The Independent: **** “it’s the quality of the writing that earns Ugly Lies the Bone this happy opportunity to be seen by a wider public.”

The Stage: *** “As a vehicle for showcasing VR technology, and informing about this pioneering treatment, the production is excellent. In terms of character depth and development, however, it’s a two-dimensional affair, despite the stellar efforts of Fleetwood.”

Gay Times:  *** “Es Devlin and Luke Halls’ design and projections a real highlight here for a story that mixes the difficult reality of life to the regularly supporting world of the digital world.”

Time Out: *** “It’s fine, then, a painful story of human suffering delivered by a great cast – but it’s also short, and bulked out by a veritable orchestra of bells and whistles. ”

Radio Times: **** “Lindsey Ferrentino’s UK debut is honest and thought-provoking. It shines a light on VR pain therapy, but only scratches the surface of the psychological pain Jess is suffering.”

WhatsOnStage: *** “Ugly Lies the Bone is a small domestic comedy-drama, and its very American, wise-cracking humour sometimes tumbleweeds in the Lyttelton.”

The Guardian: *** “The VR sequences are eyecatching, but Ugly Lies the Bone is stronger when fathoming that even more complex technology, the human heart.”

The London Economic: *** ” illustration of the very real use of VR to help those in severe physical or emotional pain. Or to take away the emphasis on how combat affects women and the PTSD that can affect all veterans. But the play is far more than the sum of its parts.”

London Theatre1: *** “moderately intense and somewhat moving production.”

The Telegraph: *** “Ugly Lies the Bone scores highly in Luke Halls’s breathtaking video design, guiding Jess and the audience through lakes of glass and snow made of feathers which constantly evolve with a hypnotic beauty (audience members are invited to use a free immersive installation outside the auditorium). But you never grasp the exact point of this technological wizardry or how it really impacts on Jess’s mental state.”

Evening Standard: *** “But the piece itself is too small for this stage. The relationships are thinly drawn, and in Indhu Rubasingham’s sensitive production the domestic scenes look lost.”

London Box Office: *** “Overall, despite some strong performances and interesting visuals, Ugly Lies The Bone ultimately suffers a lack of character and story depth.”

Broadway World: *** “Hard-earned moments of connection offer a warm, sometimes moving counterargument – messy humanity reflected by a play that’s similarly heartfelt, if more searching than fully realised.”

British Theatre.com: *** “Overall, despite a good cast and production values, the play doesn’t reach the heights it could have.”

Exeunt Magazine: “Aside from the visuals and central performance, Ugly Lies the Bone is a frustrating production.”

London Theatre.co.uk: *** “Voices became too shouty too quickly and for all the scenic wizardry I was compelled by the intricacies in Fleetwood’s performance. Physically restricted she never over compensates with her voice, instead she offers a steady and heartbreaking performance of a character in crisis.”

London Unattached: “It’s a fascinating concept to be able to move within a perfect virtual world, and the therapeutic benefits of the power of mind over body are very appealing. And perhaps it is this world that really captured my imagination whereas I felt the other areas were underexplored. However, with some strong performances and powerful visuals Ugly Lies the Bones is well worth a visit.”

The Upcoming: *** “Ugly Lies the Bone is a stellar feat of production in search of meatier material.”

City Am: * “Given its interesting premise, this production is a huge missed opportunity”

Culture Whisper: *** “At its best, Ugly Lies The Bone is both unflinchingly real and a transportive fantasy. But there’s something shallow about the characterisation that renders the play more of a study than a story.”

British Theatre Guide: “this is an important and visually stunning, if small-scale, play that showcases the talents of the ever-reliable Kate Fleetwood, fully aided by her director Indhu Rubasingham and the design team.”

Theatre Bubble: *** “Whilst undeniably a good exploration of virtual technology’s potential to change the face of theatre, the overall narrative was too predictable to match its more innovative digital side, and needed more variation in emotional level to be enticing.”

Ugly Lies the Bone continues to play at the National Theatre until the 6th June. For more information and to book tickets visit: https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ugly-lies-the-bone