October 13, 2015

It takes a brave playwright to saddle her work with the less than enticing title “Ugly Lies the Bone.” The play itself, about a severely wounded war veteran attempting to put together a new life, confirms that Lindsey Ferrentino is a writer of dauntless conviction. This bracing drama from the Roundabout Underground program, starring a superb Mamie Gummer as that damaged vet, confronts an achingly topical issue with hardheaded honesty and admirable compassion. Jess (Ms. Gummer) has returned to her Florida home from a third tour in Afghanistan, enduring intense pain from injuries and the many surgeries that followed. We can read how much she suffers, moment by moment, from the grimaces and winces that flicker across Ms. Gummer’s face. One leg almost permanently cramped, Jess uses a complicated walker to move around. The skin on the right side of her face has the mottled look of some kind of exotic fish, and she conceals her thin hair with a scarf; grafts cover large areas of her body as well, so she wears a bodysuit that extends down one arm.