Real Life Courtroom Drama!
““If I’m being honest…”
“I would hope you’re being honest, since you’re in the witness box at the High Court,”
Rooney’s lawyer, Mr Sherborne
Rarely have I enjoyed a verbatim play based on original transcripts but the Wagatha Christie play has it all, celebrities, conflict, sexual disclosures and football pundits! It is Colleen Rooney (Laura Dos Santos) complete with medical boot for a broken ankle who explains that Rebeka Vardy (Lucy May Barker) married to Jamie Vardy, one of Wayne Rooney’s England Football team mates, brought the libel case against her. Vardy claimed that Colleen had falsely accused her of breaching her privacy by selling stories to the Sun newspaper.
Colleen had set up a sting operation by only disclosing certain fake stories on her Instagram account to one person and then seeing where those stories went. What makes this play so much fun is the presentation of two football pundits, Halema Hussain and Nathan McMullen both armed with hand held microphones. Missing from the trial is Caroline Watt, Vardy’s agent. Caroline Watt is excused from giving verbal evidence and curiously her phone with the relevant WhatsApp message record has ended up lost on a ferry in the North Sea. Those same messages on Vardy’s phone were accidentally lost during an attempted transfer to her legal team.
After a reference to the beautiful game, Rebekah Vardy is called to the stand but first she composes herself slowly and with a determined and deliberate body language, then strides assertively to the witness box. The barrister for Colleen Rooney, David Sherborne (Tom Turner) introduces a huge bundle of papers, using Rebekah Vardy’s early newspaper column about the alleged limitation of Peter André’s manhood to prove that she is no stranger to nasty newspaper disclosures. There is conversation with Caroline Watt (Halema Hussain) where Vardy discusses a news story and she says she doesn’t want it coming back on her. Caroline Watt says, “I could do it!” Rebekah Vardy replies , “Just Do It!”
The Vardy evidence is a joke a minute as she gets tied up in her version of the truth. There is an argument about whether Jamie Vardy was told during the Euros in October 2019 to curb his wife’s press disclosures. The appearance of Wayne Rooney (Nathan McMullen) is a scene stealing moment as he flexes his shoulder muscles and sticks out his chest to give evidence. Jonathan Broadbent as Hugh Tomlinson QC cross examines Colleen Rooney and as he makes a good point, he celebrates like a goal scorer with arm punching and glee. Jamie Vardy (also played by Nathan McMullen) defends his wife in evidence but Mrs Justice Steyn (Verna Vyas) is unconvinced and we hear a part of her verdict.
There is a wonderful voyeurism about hearing the text messages between Vardy and Watt (Halema Hussain) read out with expressive force and actually I’d like to go back to this play and introduce it to others. What makes this so much more fun than the televised versions of the trial is the context of football, the green carpet with centre markings, the stands for the witnesses and barristers and above all the physical gestures, lighting and noise of the beautiful game with ugly people.
Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial
Adapted by Liv Hennessy
Directed by Lisa Spirling
Laura Dos Santos
Lucy May Barker
Director: Lisa Spirling
Designer: Polly Sullivan
Lighting Designer: Johanna Town
Sound Designer and Composer: Richard Hammarton
Movement Consultant: Mateus Daniel
Running Time: Two hours 10 minutes with an interval
Booking to 20th May 2023
London WC2H 9ND
Phone: 03330 096 690
Tube Leicester Square
Then on tour to
26th – 27th May 2023 New Victoria Theatre, Woking
28th May 2023 Liverpool Empire
30th – 31st May 2023 Southend Palace
5th – 7th June 2023 Gaiety Theatre Dublin
9th – 11th June 2023 The Lowry, Salford
15th – 17th June 2023 Brighton Theatre Royal
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at the
at the Ambassadors Theatre
on 13th April 2023