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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Performance Review: Tear-jerking portrayal of PTSD in ‘Ugly Lies the Bone’

A projected background was utilized to immerse the audience deeper in the play. (Photo courtesy of Timmy Mayrose ’23)

When I walked out of Weiss Theater at Buck Hall after seeing this play last Thursday, my mind was bursting at the seams with emotions. People standing next to me had the remains of tears smeared down their cheeks and water crowding their eyes. 

This was the work of “Ugly Lies the Bone,” directed by Timmy Mayrose ‘23 for his senior project, which features a mesmerizing telling of the impacts that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has on the body, the brain and one’s interpersonal relationships. 

The story follows Jess, a wounded war veteran who uses virtual reality therapy to heal from her traumatic military experiences. Jess, as played by Gabby Kapanka ’23, is captivating, dynamic and raw in the most beautiful way. Kapanka’s emotional range is something to be recognized, notably how she is able to go from screaming in frustration and tearing picture frames off the wall in one scene to revisiting her soft side with her ex-boyfriend, Stevie, played by Peter Canevari ‘23, in another.

As Jess is healing, she undergoes virtual reality therapy to alleviate her pain and feel like herself again. In intermittent bursts, Jess comes forward on the stage and becomes entangled in virtual paradises composed of snowy mountains, a landscape that provides comfort for her. Through the guidance of the therapy instructor, voiced by Thania Hernandez ‘25, Jess is encouraged to move her body and attempt to “climb” the hurdles of the mountain and her mind. 

These scenes were incredibly moving, as the stage went dark and the screen behind it projected the virtual reality world Jess was seeing. It felt like I was in the room with her, experiencing her exact pain and frustration. My emotions were certainly thrown for a loop. 

“Gabby Kapanka’s performance was emotionally impactful. Her physicality was so convincing that I was transported into the story,” Meredith Forman ‘24, a viewer of the play, said. 

With only five actors, this cast was small but incredibly mighty. Mayrose said that a cast of this size allowed for a lot more creativity in production and for the actors to take ownership of their roles.

“It was so collaborative from day one to the end,” he said. “Everyone gave one hundred percent the whole time.”

Marisa Carroll ‘25 played Jess’ protective and nurturing sister Kacie, who is dating Kelvin, portrayed by Cormac Hurley ‘24. Carroll’s rendition of a caring figure in Jess’s life nicely complimented Hurley’s hilarious and vibrant portrayal of the insufferable Kelvin, of whom Jess disapproves. 

The on-stage chemistry between Kapanka and Canevari as two old flames is something to appreciate. They beautifully encapsulated the concurrent feelings of pain, longing and love that are left over once you reunite with a past love. 

It is clear that Mayrose did a phenomenal job directing this play. Given the incredible depth and emotion that “Ugly Lies the Bone” contains, it takes a person with a lot of empathy and artistic ability to pull off this show the right way. For example, he incorporated several small details into the set that gave meaning to the story. One of my favorites was that the side monitors of Weiss Theater had security camera footage of the stage during the production — showing Jess’s every move from different angles —  to display how much people experiencing PTSD feel perceived in both a physical and mental sense. 

“I knew I wanted to focus on disability representation on stage and I was in between physical and mental representations,” Mayrose said. 

Evidently, he was successful in tying both together, and the cast did an impressive job at bringing those visions to life.

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About the Contributor
Bernadette Russo
Bernadette Russo, Culture Editor
Likes trees and hates writing bios.

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