Theatre Review - Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial

LAST year, a dispute between footballers’ wives, Rebekah Vardy (Lucy May Barker) and Coleen Rooney (Laura Dos Santos), culminated in a libel case in the English High Court.

In 2019, Rooney accused Vardy of leaking posts from her private Instagram account to The Sun newspaper. Vardy sued Rooney for libel, and the case went to trial in 2022. The onus was on Rooney to prove Vardy was responsible. After seven days, the court dismissed Vardy’s claim on the basis that Rooney’s statements were “substantially true”.

Their clash and subsequent trial attracted intense media scrutiny. The tabloids nicknamed the case “Wagatha Christie” because of the social media sleuthing by Rooney. She had discovered who was sharing her personal pictures and updates on her family life by posting fabricated stories on her private Insta account and restricting access to Vardy.

This immersive stage production has been adapted from the High Court transcripts by Liv Hennessy and reveals verbatim what went on behind closed doors and how the extraordinary week in court played out.

I had anticipated that by dissecting their personal lives and public spat using tabloid coverage the play might patronise two working-class celebrities.

However, the inherent tension and much of the humour comes from the legal wranglings (courtesy of Jonnie Broadbent and David Sherborne) who unpick the sting operations and social media posts and the comments (and bias) of the pundits (Halema Hussain and Nathan McMullen) who revel in the sensational headlines.

This courtroom drama is beautifully acted, Polly Sullivan’s clever design draws out the football references and Lisa Spirling offers well-paced direction.


Until May 20

Originally published by Westminster Extra