The truth comes out in Kent County Theatre Guild's ‘Vino Veritas’

By Craig Horleman
Posted 2/14/24

More than wine is spilled as the Kent County Theatre Guild presents the dark comedy, “Vino Veritas,” starting tonight at the Patchwork Playhouse.

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The truth comes out in Kent County Theatre Guild's ‘Vino Veritas’


DOVER — More than wine is spilled as the Kent County Theatre Guild presents the dark comedy, “Vino Veritas,” starting Friday at the Patchwork Playhouse.

In a show with frank dialogue and situations not normally witnessed in community theater, two couples explore some truths when they imbibe a mysterious blue Peruvian wine prior to a Halloween party.

The result is an unraveling of secrets and relationships.

The production’s four-member cast features Shelby Bradford as Lauren; Kevin Hartigan as her husband, Phil; Dustin McHale as Ridley; and Aubrey Twilley as his wife, Claire. It is directed by Steve Caporiccio, with the assistance of Rebekah Lee, who calls the show “a breath of fresh air” for its mix of laughs and tough subject matter, like religion, abortion and sex.

Ms. Bradford said that mix is what makes “Vino Veritas” such a singular experience.

“I think one of my favorite things about a really good show is knowing, as the actor, what’s coming and knowing the audience doesn’t know that it’s coming. And that thrill of being able to deliver that to the audience, of being able to show them that interesting part of the show that they don’t see coming that they’re not expecting,” she said. “And then, they get that emotional experience, whatever it is.

“Whether it’s a secret a character is hiding or an interaction that the actors are going to have with one another, that’s one of the interesting things about the show, for sure.”

The play, written by David MacGregor and turned into an independent film in 2013, is solely set in the living room of Lauren and Phil’s house, where they welcome Ridley and Claire. All are eventually dressed in their Halloween costumes — a witch, a cowboy, a doctor and Queen Elizabeth I. But the masks slowly and metaphorically fall off, leading to an evening of uncomfortable truths.

“I certainly think that shows that are well known are easier to get audiences to come to. But I think audiences would really miss out if they missed a show like this because this show really has so much to it,” Ms. Bradford said. “It’s got the comedy that I think everybody wants, but it also has drama and surprises. It’s just a really exciting show.

“It’s not a classic that everybody knows about, but I think it’s definitely a show that people will walk away from and say to themselves, ‘Wow, I’m really glad I saw that.’”

Because of the profanity and graphic themes, the cast and crew are expecting some audience members to be uncomfortable to the point of walking out.

But Ms. Twilley said that would be a mistake.

“Theater is about pushing the envelope. So, something like this, I have no doubt people are going to be offended. But the people that are offended are missing the entertainment value of it,” she said.

“There’s so much that happens in the show, so much that’s funny, so much that’s heavy, so much that’s emotional, so much that’s poignant, so much that’s ridiculous. It’s just a lot. So, I’m hoping that, even if people are offended by the cursing, that they kind of take it in stride and pay attention to what’s being discussed and how it’s affecting the people.”

Mr. McHale agreed.

“This show is about people speaking the truth. It’s the first time they’ve spoken the truth to each other, to the people in their lives. And I think the truth is a very difficult thing for people to grasp,” he said. “If people are going to walk out, they’re going to walk out. But we have an obligation — as actors, as directors, as people putting on a show — to tell these stories because there is a very human story in the show.”

For Mr. Hartigan, the staging represents a return to the theater after about a decade. He last portrayed the young son in “On Golden Pond” at Kent County Theatre Guild.

“I went down to school and got kind of distracted with other things and then got a job straight out of (college) and just got distracted with the job, and I kept on giving myself reasons — ‘I’m too busy with this, too busy with that,’” he said.

“But both my parents and my grandmother are patrons of the Kent County Theatre Guild. They said, ‘Hey, they’re looking for a male between 20 years old and 60.’ And I said, ‘That’s me.’”

Mr. Hartigan jumped into a show where he is on stage practically the whole time. He said it’s a daunting task.

“You’ve really got to rely on the chemistry with the three people around you. So, yeah, I came back in a big way,” he said.

“I had to relearn a lot of stuff that I knew how to do when I was doing it as a kid. And then, there was some stuff that I pulled out of nowhere that I still wasn’t good at. Darrell (Keane), our stage manager, has been good about telling me, ‘I’ve noticed you doing this. Do not do that.’ So, definitely learning and unlearning old habits has been an adjustment.”

Mr. Caporiccio, the director, said “Vino Veritas” is difficult to perform, aside from the fact that all the actors are on stage the entire show.
“It’s about relationships. It’s about emotions. It’s about what happens to married couples, and it’s difficult for the actors to get all that out and to do it well because you really have to dig inside yourself for ... that,” he said.

“And this is not one of the typical shows that’s done here. It’s very, very different. But they need to do more of that sort of stuff here, not necessarily the swearing and stuff like that. But shows that are a little bit more than broad comedy, although broad comedy is good. I’ve done those. But shows that make you think a little bit. And that’s what this show does,” he said. “It makes you think about stuff. You’re thinking about your own relationships and how you deal with things and telling the truth to your partner or family member. There’s a lot in there for the actors and the audience.”

He said all four actors shine in their roles and credited the original director, Mike Polo, who helped with casting but had to drop out due to health reasons.

“They’ve gotten so much better from when we started. They’ve grown so much in the characters,” Mr. Caporiccio said. “I’ve worked with a couple of them quite a bit in terms of trying to get them to understand the character and what they’re trying to do and what I see them doing, and I think they’re doing a great job.”

The play will be staged Friday and Saturday, and on Feb. 23 and 24 and March 1 and 2 at 8 p.m., with a 2 p.m. showing Feb. 25.

Doors open at 7 for the evening productions and at 1 for the matinee. Patchwork Playhouse is at 140 E. Roosevelt Ave.

For tickets, visit

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