THEATRE REVIEW: Ugly Lies The Bone starring Kate Fleetwood


WHERE: National Theatre

WHEN: 28/2, press night 1/3, runs to 6/6

The most remarkable thing about this play detailing the virtual reality treatment given to a soldier injured in her final Afghanistan tour is the wildly inventive stage design by Es Devlin (see picture).

  • Read on for reasons including details of lead Kate Fleetwood’s performance

The Lyttelton Theatre stage is transformed into a skateboard park-like bowl with sloped banks against its three sides allowing computer-generated images to be projected on them and even to store sets which slide back and forth on rollers in and out of view.

Jess (a moving Kate Fleetwood even under the heavy make-up conveying her physical injuries) returns home to Florida after a tour which she only undertook to fund her ailing mother’s care.

She is both physically and mentally scarred by injuries sustained in the field and we’re present in the treatment during which her therapist encourages her to forget her disabilities in a virtual reality present of her design and push forward with her rehabilitation.

Less comfortable are the scenes with an ex-boyfriend (Ralf Little, once again in fine form in a very different role to his most recent in Dead Funny at the Vaudeville), well-meaning sister and her annoying boyfriend (Kris Marshall, particularly good).

This UK debut by American author Lindsey Ferrentino is well handled by director Indhu Rubasingham (who give us the award-winning Motherf**ker With The Hat at this venue in 2015) and its subject matter makes for an interesting 90 minutes without interval.

Particularly striking is how those around Jess react to her as she undergoes the stresses of her own rehabilitation. The cast give us all they can with the material available but, perhaps inevitably, it is the remarkable staging which lingers most long in the mind.

  • Picture by Mark Douet via Facebook courtesy National Theatre. Tickets
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