Arts & Culture

OLT’s insightful new ‘Vino Veritas’ plays drunken truth-telling for laughs

Courtesy of Olympia Little Theatre

Have you ever had a little too much wine — or beer or whiskey or whatever you fancy — and found yourself blurting out an uncomfortable truth?

That, more or less, is the subject of “Vino Veritas,” opening Friday at Olympia Little Theatre.

David MacGregor’s dark comedy, set at Halloween, finds two costumed couples consuming a mysterious blue beverage that turns out to be a truth serum.

“I like to think of it as basically an exaggeration of what alcohol does to people,” said director Randall Graham. “It causes their inhibitions to lower, and they end up being more truthful.”

As Tina Fey’s character put it in the recent Netflix flick “Wine Country,” about a group of friends who head to Napa Valley together: “The wi-fi here is very slow. So you’re just going to have to talk to each other while drinking a ton of wine. What could possibly go wrong? ... Just remember, guys, whatever gets said, it’s probably what the person has always felt and the alcohol just let it out.”

Graham admits he has had at least one such moment himself.

“I definitely had an experience where I said something that I knew I shouldn’t have said,” he told The Olympian. “But I was being honest about a situation.”

The wine, as the playwright calls it — perhaps because “in vino veritas” means “in wine is truth” — is described as a Peruvian ceremonial drink made from the skins of blue poison-dart frogs. The resulting liquid would, of course, not be wine, and worse, it would be poisonous.

But that fantastical detail aside, the play is quite realistic, said Graham, who directed last season’s “Driving Miss Daisy” at Olympia Little Theatre and has been acting, stage managing and working on sound and lights for the company for five years.

“The characters are very real people experiencing very real things,” he said. “There are very relatable and very human moments where the characters talk about deep and engaging subjects.”

Many critics who reviewed past productions felt the same, describing the play as insightful and thought-provoking.

“The cleverly executed ‘Vino Veritas,’ about two middle-age couples and an honesty-inducing bottle of wine, speaks directly and profoundly about marriage, child-rearing, career choices, even the existence of God,” wrote a critic from the Detroit Free Press. “It also made me laugh — hard.”

Graham came across the play a few years ago while looking online for possible future directing projects, and he was captivated immediately.

“When I first read it, I said, ‘I have to do that at some point,’ ” he said. “It is such a beautiful story with so much humor, character and emotion.”

‘Vino Veritas’

  • What: Set at Halloween, David MacGregor’s dark comedy addresses the ups and downs of honesty.
  • When: 7:25 Friday and Saturday plus Nov. 1, 2 and 7-9, and 1:55 p.m. Sunday plus Nov. 3 and 10
  • Where: Olympia Little Theatre, 1925 Miller Ave. NE, Olympia
  • Tickets: $9-$15
  • More information: 360-786-9484, olympialittletheater.org
  Comments