Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial reviews – Wyndham’s Theatre ★★★★

Reviews are coming in for Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London.

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial runs at the Wyndham’s Theatre on 22 and 29 November, 6, 13 and 20 December 2022, and 10 January 2022.

The play stars Lucy May Barker (Mamma Mia!) as Rebekah Vardy and Laura Dos Santos (Yes So I Said Yes, My White Best Friend) as Coleen Rooney, alongside Jonathan Broadbent (The Comedy of Errors, RSC; My Night with Reg) as Hugh Tomlinson QC, and Nathan McMullen (Misfits) and Sharan Phull (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie) playing multiple roles including Wayne Rooney, Jamie Vardy and Harpreet Robertson.

The play is based on the High Court transcripts from seven sensational days of the libel trial between football WAGS Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney.

Adapted by Liv Hennessy, and directed by Lisa Spirling, the play invites audiences to witness the case of Rebekah Vardy v Coleen Rooney unfold in their own words.

The play is produced by Eleanor Lloyd, producer of Agatha Christie’s Witness for the Prosecution, with design by Polly Sullivan, lighting design by Ben Bull, sound design by Richard Hammarton, and Lizzie Manwaring is assistant director.

More reviews to follow.

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This article was first published on 16 November 2022

Average Critics Rating

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial reviews

The Times

"Wagatha Christie play hits back of the net"

"Vardy v Rooney proved to be a high-wire act, all right, but only to the extent that it made you gasp, made you laugh from disbelief, and once it started you couldn’t take your eyes off it."

"Vardy v Rooney has fun, how can it not, with this super-strange showdown. The set is white court furniture on a green football-pitch floor. Liv Hennessy’s script is largely verbatim questioning and testimony from the court case, but also gets two actors to play commentators who offer legal context in footballing terms, mikes in hand on the halfway line."

"It’s a beautifully judged mixture of fact and fancy, gets across all the juicy details of outlandish events..."

"OK, we know where the verdict went. Yet throughout Lisa Spirling’s wonderfully well acted production, it brings out the humanity as well as the humour and the news lines in a conflict that also serves as a comedy of manners for the social media age. Where are the boundaries of private and public? This uses every minute of its 90 minutes — plus injured-party time — to take an unblinkingly bizarre look."

Dominic Maxwell, The Times
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Daily Mail

"You really couldn’t make this story up and the fact it’s all true is like a scene out of Dynasty!"

"It was gripping and funny in parts, and sad at times, but two hours of my life never went so fast."

"As soon as the actors came on stage I was gripped from the start! I thought maybe Rebekah Vardy had a say in the casting and wardrobe as the actress who plays Coleen appeared on stage on her own to tell her story in a long, padded, awful football anorak! But if you closed your eyes, the accent and voice. it was Coleen! I was gripped!"

"It left the audience feeling this was really about hierarchy in the WAG world. It was gripping and funny in parts, and sad at times, but two hours of my life never went so fast. I was gripped, probably one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. There was only ever going to be one winner in this play and it was Coleen Rooney."

Lizzie Cundy, Daily Mail
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The Telegraph

"She’s behind you! The new Wagatha Christie play is less Two Angry Women, more panto"

"This piece of rapid-response verbatim theatre, at the Wyndham's, has the audience whooping and booing at the famous trial's sillier moments"

"It’s fun to watch a live-action version, since we weren’t allowed in the actual courtroom, but the only deviation from the trial is light-hearted commentary from two pretend pundits (the witty design also incorporates a football pitch). Lisa Spirling’s spry production does capture the absurd incongruity of modern celebrity and social media culture crashing into the grandiose legal system, and it relishes the juxtaposition between Vardy’s pious testimony and her catty, fame-hungry WhatsApp exchanges with her agent."

"this re-creation is a quick-hit guilty pleasure: it further invades Rooney’s privacy for our amusement, while making the attention-seeking Vardy an unlikely West End star."

Marianka Swain, The Telegraph
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The Evening Standard

"Hilarious and gripping"

"An excellent take on a contemporary media circus"

"Well, the team played a blinder. Writer Liv Hennessy and director Lisa Spirling bring the irresistible courtroom drama of the Vardy v Rooney libel trial to hilarious, gripping life using only edited transcripts and a bit of sportscaster commentary."

Nick Curtis, The Evening Standard
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The Stage

"An unexpected state-of-the-nation drama"

"Liv Hennessy has edited seven days of court transcripts into two hours of match highlights, creating, somehow, a bizarre state-of-the-nation drama. The case sits at the intersection of society’s hottest topics: celebrity, privacy, social media, class, wealth, the role of women, the legal system and our love of a scalp viciously won. But it’s also so stupidly low-stakes that it’s hard not to laugh."

"In a sense, a verbatim play is a cop-out: a repetition, rather than a reckoning. It’s a quick buck that prolongs public humiliation as entertainment. And yet this strange meeting point of football match, courtroom drama, pantomime and farce, well, it’s.......... pretty good fun."

Tim Bano, The Stage
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i News

"Your brain will implode"

"Liv Hennessy has whittled seven days’ worth of court transcripts down into two hours that bounce merrily along in their rough and ready way in Lisa Spirling’s jolly production, which more than overcomes the perforce static nature of the courtroom set-up."

"I began to feel lemming-like legions of my brain cells jumping over a cliff in despair that this was the legal case to transfix a nation. 12 Angry Men, meet two narked women. “Why on earth are we here?” asks Rooney’s barrister as the judge prepares to publish her verdict and it is as if he speaks for us all."

"Still, this is a fine way to indulge in booing and hissing – Vardy’s first entrance is vigorously greeted with this – without having to go to a pantomime."

Fiona Mountford, i News
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The Guardian

"Courtroom panto"

"Laura Dos Santos and Lucy May Barker are excellent as the frenemies in a queasy verbatim drama"

"This is a tale of sleuthing, social media, fame and frenemies in all its lurid detail. Directed by Lisa Spirling, Liv Hennessy’s adaptation gives us nothing more than we know, but nothing less either. If its cross-examinations do not have the razor tension they should – the details were fed to us in daily news reports only this summer, after all – they engage us with their grisly voyeurism."

"Polly Sullivan’s set is a tacky courtroom cum football pitch and the drama is interrupted by a pair of football pundits who serve, rather gratingly, as narrators. But the performances are excellent, especially Barker’s as Vardy, who is deadpan and insouciant until the last. She comes across as an implacable force in sunglasses whose forgetfulness in the witness box resembles a teenage strop."

Arifa Akbar, The Guardian
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The Observer

"Vardy and Rooney go head to head"

"Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial is a game of two halves. Half-panto, half-audience provocation. With impressive speed, Liv Hennessy has adapted the transcript of the mind-boggling court proceedings earlier this year between footballers’ wives Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney. Lisa Spirling directs the result to make a springy insta-success."

"There is a shift in outrage as the filthy online abuse hurled at Vardy is repeated. And an awareness. Being in an audience gives you the cloak of anonymity: concerted baying can be the public equivalent of trolling."

Susannah Clapp, The Observer
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The Sunday Times

"Much of Vardy v Rooney — the costumes, the wild stakes, the vanities and tautness of plot — felt theatrical. Now it is a play. Liv Hennessy has knocked out a mainly verbatim account based on court reports in Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial. The piece is adorned, though not improved, by the invention of two TV pundits."

"Hennessy’s spry script allows for bitchy social media comments to be done as asides. The audience hissed. Meanwhile, Rooney’s lithe lawyer, Sherborne, affixes legal dynamite to Vardy’s superstructure."

"The ending, with its written judgment, is also unhelpful for staged drama. But as theatrical entertainment the show works. It bottles contemporary, popular spectacle. Public figures have become mere players on a stage, their tragedies served up for our entertainment."

Quentin Letts, The Sunday Times
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📷 Main photo: Vardy V Rooney-The Wagatha Christie Trial Wyndham's Theatre. Photo: Tristram Kenton

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