Teen Ensemble Reviews Ugly Lies the Bone

The Alliance Teen Ensemble has the opportunity to see and review each production during the season.  See their responses to Ugly Lies the Bone below.

Ugly Lies the Bone, a play by Lindsey Ferrentino, leads the audience through the emotional and physical journey of Jess, a soldier who has just returned home from war. While the content is heavy, there are moments of comic relief along with heartfelt moments where you can't help but smile and a shed a happy tear.
Because the play has a small cast, it makes it easier to focus on each character and their role in Jess' life as well as her mind's role in her own life as we see her go through therapy sessions, interactions with old flames, and awkward situations with new acquaintances.
To fit the small cast of the production, the set is also very minimal with just enough to let the audience know where the characters are and the significance of the place. The lighting also does a phenomenal job of setting the mood of the play and causes the audience to almost subconsciously slip into the emotional state of the scene taking place.
Overall, Ugly Lies the Bone is a fascinating production that will have you rooting for its protagonist and feeling like you're a key piece in her journey to finding and healing herself.
- Amira, 11th grade
Ugly Lies the Bone is a beautiful piece of theater, taking the audience through a wide range of emotions and themes. At its core, however, it’s a picture of love and trust as we follow Jess through her journey back to reality upon her return from her third tour in the war. We watch her begin to deal with the physical and emotional damage left from the tour, and quite literally see her transform in many ways.
Julia Jesnick is a captivating Jess, taking on the form and shape of the injuries from the get-go. You never doubt her when she tries with all her might to protect her sister Kacie (played by Wendy Melkonian, who consistently steals the show with her intentionality and heart-warming care) and falls in love again with Stevie (played here by Lee Osorio, with an invigorating youth). As Jess deals with reality vs. virtual reality, undergoing a special kind of virtual reality therapy, the audience struggles to find the truth as well. 
However, through it all there seems to be a sense of homeliness and reliability: everyone knows a Jess, that they want to get better and to escape from their own mind; everyone knows a Kacie or a Stevie, trying their best to care for their Jess while all the while caring for themselves as well; everyone even knows a Kelvin (played masterfully by Hugh Adams, always the perfect comedic relief); and that's what makes this such a special piece of theater. I personally recommend that anyone that gets the chance to see Ugly Lies the Bone takes it, because through the laughter and tears there's something in it for all.
- Austin, 11th grade
I don’t think I was prepared for the hilarious, yet heartbreaking circumstances that unfolded before me in Lindsey Ferrentino’s Ugly Lies the Bone. The chemistry and honesty between the cast was incredible, every character was portrayed complexly, having their own set of quirks and impulses. These characters were relatable, and real, which made everything so much more powerful in a sense, for the line between story and real life got a little blurred for a while. I found myself immersed in this world that was all too familiar to my own. These dark themes such as overcoming disability, and finding trust only to have it broken again, were so beautifully executed, with the additional help of lights and realistic sets (the falling and rising ceiling is super cool!). The portrayal of Jess was immensely impressive, for the body-characterization was factored into everything.  The actor threw herself into the circumstances to deliver an honest performance of how a disability could change everything, but also doesn’t have to. Yet with the presence of these underlying themes, the play still made me genuinely laugh, a lot, while very soon after making me cry, a lot, which I think is a good play if I’ve ever seen one.
- Evita, 11th grade
Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino is a stunningly simple and moving piece. The story itself was derived from such a unique and intriguing topic with which I hadn’t had much previous experience or knowledge. It was truly eye opening while still sparking curiosity afterwards. Full disclosure— I researched the topic an hour after seeing the show. I also have to give colossal props to the actors. I found myself laughing, crying or a hybrid of the two. While major credit is due to the actors, the text of the piece itself is what stood out to me overall. From the creation of characters who are a little bit like everyone you know, to the witty repartee between complicated relationships, the script was brilliant. Overall, I was truly moved and changed by the show, and fully believe that it is not an experience to be missed. 
- Gillian, 10th grade
Ugly Lies the Bone, written by Lindsey Ferrentino and presented at the Alliance Theatre, is a true masterpiece that challenges the mundane nature that plagues our society and how the events that occur in our everyday lives have an impact on the past, present, and future. Julie Jesneck gives a compelling performance as Jess, a troubled army veteran suffering from PTSD after being severely injured during combat. Her portrayal of this complex character, who seemingly wants to push everyone away, not only paints a realistic picture of what millions of veterans experience every day, but also makes for an intense contrast when we see the vulnerable side of Jess that is so hidden behind her dismissive and aggressive demeanor. Jesneck is supported by an ensemble of talented actors who create a plethora of events that Jess is faced with in her journey to recover, physically and mentally, from the trauma she has endured. The recurring motif throughout the show is Jess’ journey with a therapist of sorts who is trying to utilize new technology to assist Jess in her recovery. The scenes that Jess has with her therapist, who is only presented in voice over, are enhanced by the use of incredible production elements such as sound and lighting that really put the audience members in Jess’ shoes. Set designer Alexander Woodward also deserves credit for an incredibly intricate set that does wonders in setting a realistic environment for the actors. Overall, this show is one that makes the audience take a step back and get a look at life through someone else’s shoes. This perspective is one that can change someone’s outlook on life, as it has definitely changed mine.
- Isabel, 11th grade
Ugly Lies the Bone by Lindsey Ferrentino is a heartfelt play. I found myself laughing and then instantaneously empathizing for the characters. The stage was full of relatable characters who grabbed my attention from the start. It was not until the end of the play that I realized that cast consisted of five actors because their personalities were so big. I was able to feel the depths of emotions portrayed by the characters, especially Jess who convincingly conveyed the pain from having burns all over her body with her well crafted body movements. I found myself so engaged in watching Jess and the other characters find a new normal. It was satisfying to realize that in the end life is not about enduring but recovering.
- Jordan, 10th grade

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