March 1, 2017



Available in the National Theatre’s Lyttelton Lounge for an hour after Ugly Lies the Bone Performances

UGLY LIES THE BONE, a new play by US playwright Lindsey Ferrentino, makes its European premiere in the Lyttelton Theatre tonight and runs until 6 June. The production examines the use of virtual reality in treating soldiers experiencing PTSD.

‘Beauty is but skin deep, Ugly Lies the Bone; beauty dies and fades away, but ugly holds its own.’

Jess, a soldier returning home to Florida after three tours in Afghanistan, experiments with a pioneering virtual reality therapy. She builds a breath-taking new world where she can escape her pain. There, she begins to restore her relationships, her life and, slowly, herself.

Thanks to a unique partnership between Firsthand and the National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio, with technical partner HTC Vive, audiences can experience COOL!, a VR Pain Control Therapy similar to that which Jess experiences in Ugly Lies the Bone in an immersive installation front of house after performances. Firsthand has been working at the forefront of VR pain research for many years, collaborating with leading scientists including Dr. Hunter Hoffman, Dr. David Patterson, and Dr. Thomas Furness to create SnowWorld, the VR pain control therapy which inspired Ferrentino’s play Ugly Lies the Bone.

Studies show that VR can provide effective pain relief, often better than drugs, and immersion is the key to that relief. In experimental trials with SnowWorld it was typical for at least 60% of patients to experience a more than 30% reduction in pain. Comparatively, a dose of morphine is often calibrated to reduce pain by 25%. The more that people feel that they are present in a virtual world; the further it takes them from their pain.

Peter Frolund, Vice President of VR (Europe) at HTC said: ‘Jess’s story in Ugly Lies the Bone is really powerful and it is a brilliant way of showcasing some of the amazing things that people are using Vive for right now. It is important that people realise that VR can be and is already used for so many purposes other than gaming. Whether that is in medicine, treatment of PTSD or education, we want people to broaden their horizons and make the most of VR to improve and enrich lives.’

The full cast of Ugly Lies the Bone is Kate Fleetwood (last seen at the NT in King Lear and in the feature film London Road), Ralf Little (BBC’s The Royle Family, Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps and most recently Dead Funny at the Vaudeville Theatre, making his NT debut), Kris Marshall (BBC’s My Family and the feature film Love Actually), Buffy Davis (BBC Radio 4’s The Archers) and Olivia Darnley who recently toured in Filter Theatre’s Twelfth Night.

Award winning playwright Lindsey Ferrentino’s honest and funny drama was a New York Times Critic’s Pick and played a sold-out run at Roundabout Theater Company. This UK production is directed by Indhu Rubasingham, who last year directed the award-winning ‘The Motherf**ker with the Hat’ at the NT and is Artistic Director of the Tricycle Theatre. Set design is by Es Devlin whose work crosses a wide range of genres: opera, dance, film, theatre, concerts and fashion. Her recent work includes Light Shining in Buckinghamshire at the NT and stage sets in collaboration with Beyoncé, Kanye West, U2, Jay Z and Adele. She designed the London Olympic Closing Ceremony and the Rio Olympic Opening Ceremony; video design is by Luke Halls; costume design by Johanna Coe; lighting design by Oliver Fenwick; music and sound by Ben and Max Ringham; and fight direction by Rachel Brown-Williams and Ruth Cooper-Brown of RC-Annie Ltd.


COOL! A free, immersive installation Available in the Lyttelton Lounge at the National Theatre for an hour following Ugly Lies the Bone performances. For performance schedule, click here. Images of Cool here. 




For the National Theatre: Emma Hardy 020 7452 3231 /

For Firsthand: Howard Rose +1 415 877-4773 Notes to Editors


About Firsthand

Firsthand Technology has been working at the forefront of VR pain research for over 20 years, in collaboration with leading scientists to create VR pain control therapy. They are creators of SnowWorld and VR PTSD therapy that inspired the Lindsey Ferrentino to create ULTB.

Firsthand’s evidence-based approach maximizes VR’s high-bandwidth channel to the brain to deliver adaptive, clinically validated solutions for a wide range of health conditions, inspire healthy lifestyles and increase treatment regimen adherence.

Decades of studies underlie Firsthand’s solutions. Our VR applications, like COOL! and GLOW!, maximize VR’s mechanisms of action for health: immersion, interaction, sensory engagement and mental focus. In a recent study with chronic pain patients using Firsthand’s COOL!, patients reported 60-70% pain reduction during treatment, with benefits lasting up to 48 hours post treatment. The company is releasing additional applications for: post-operative recovery, anxiety/stress, flare-ups, PTSD, addiction and other conditions.

About VIVE

VIVE is a first-of-its-kind virtual reality platform developed by HTC and Valve for total immersion in virtual worlds. Designed from the ground up for room-scale VR and true-to-life interactions, VIVE delivers on the promise of VR with game-changing technology and best-in-class content. VIVE has been recognised with over 65 awards and wide critical acclaim since its unveiling in 2015. For more information, visit

 About HTC

HTC Corporation aims to bring brilliance to life. As a global innovator in smart mobile devices and technology, HTC has produced award-winning products and industry firsts since its inception in 1997, including the critically acclaimed HTC One and HTC Desire lines of smartphones. The pursuit of brilliance is at the heart of everything we do, inspiring best-in-class design and game-changing mobile and virtual reality experiences for consumers around the world. HTC is listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange (TWSE: 2498). 

About the NT’s Immersive Storytelling Studio

The National Theatre’s Immersive Storytelling Studio examines how Virtual Reality (VR), 360⁰ film, augmented reality and other emerging technologies can widen and enhance the NT’s remit to be a pioneer of dramatic storytelling and to ‘enable an audience to stand in the shoes of another’. The studio forms part of the National Theatre’s New Work Department, in collaboration with the NT’s Digital Development Team.


 About the National Theatre

The National Theatre is dedicated to making the very best theatre and sharing it with as many people as possible. We produce productions on the South Bank in London each year, ranging from reimagined classics to modern masterpieces and new work by contemporary writers and theatremakers. The National’s work is seen on tour throughout the UK, in London’s West End, internationally (including on Broadway) and in collaborations and coproductions with theatres across the country. Across 2015-2016, the NT staged 34 productions and gave 3,134 performances in the UK and internationally. The NT’s award-winning programme had a UK audience of 2.5 million, 700,000 of which were NT Live audiences.

The Clore Learning Centre at the NT is committed to providing programmes for schools, young people, families, community groups and adult learners, including the nationwide youth theatre festival Connections and playwriting competition New Views. In 2015-2016, we engaged with over 181,000 participants through the NT Learning events programme. Further, over 2,200 secondary schools have signed up to the free streaming service, On Demand in Schools since its launch in September 2015. @nationaltheatre @NT_PressOffice