Review: Ugly Lies the Bone at Big Idea Theatre

Showtimes: Thursday 8pm, Friday 8pm, Saturday 8pm; Through 5/25; $12-$18; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036;
Rated 4.0

Jess bears the scars of war, both internally and externally. She has returned from her three military tours in Afghanistan a broken person—horribly wounded and disfigured, leaving her depressed and angry.

When we first meet Jess in Big Idea Theatre’s production of Ugly Lies the Bone, we understand her bitterness. Her face is scarred, she stumbles around with a walker, and multiple surgeries have left her in excruciating pain. But the real tragedy is Jess has lost her sense of self, and it seems the world has lost its sense of this new, unrecognizable Jess. Then she’s introduced to virtual reality, which transports her into a more mobile and manageable world.

While the storyline of Ugly sounds dark and dreary, playwright Lindsey Ferrentino adds sharp humor and a cast of quirky characters who help lighten the load. And what Big Idea contributes is a strong cast who completely transform themselves into totally believable characters.

At the center of this production is the talented Karen Bombardier who gives us a layered Jess—not always sympathetic, but always authentic. Bombardier never leaves her character, even during set changes, and she makes us believe in her character even when her character doesn’t believe in herself.