Photo: Pamela Raith

We daresay you’ve probably heard about this story already but, for the benefit of anyone who may somehow have missed the news over the last several years, there was a high-profile falling out between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy – the celebrity wives of footballers Wayne Rooney and Jamie Vardy – over leaked stories about Coleen which ended up in the Sun newspaper. In 2019, having done some online sleuthing, Coleen publicly named Rebekah (or rather, her Instagram account) as the source of the leak to journalists. Rebekah subsequently sued for libel in a case which ended up in the High Court last year; it’s here that the action for this play unfurls.

We weren’t entirely sure what to expect from this show but what we saw was a pleasant surprise. It very much plays out like a football match, with two halves lasting about 45 minutes each, and our hosts for the evening move the action forward in the style of match commentators; our judge adjudicates proceedings as a football referee would, making judicious use of a whistle and brandishing red and yellow cards in the latter stages of the evening; whenever one side wins an argument there’s a goal-style celebration with sound effects of a crowd cheering. It’s an amusing framing device which really works well.

In terms of the play itself, all the text – apart from the punditry dispensed by our commentators – is taken verbatim from transcripts of the court proceedings. There’s plenty of source material to choose from: the trial lasted a full week, and we’re presented with an entertaining, fast-paced highlights reel. Amusingly, our actors also employ delightful changes in tone depending on whether they’re matter-of-factly speaking to their lawyers or whether they’re animatedly reading out their own social media posts or WhatsApp exchanges.

It all works very well and, we’re pleased to report, it’s surprisingly gripping. Even though we’re aware of the result of the trial – it generated a lot of headlines last year – it’s still engrossing to watch all the twists and turns unfold in the court. It feels like a high-stakes football game playing out in real-time, only this one is a high-camp courtroom comedy – which to be honest we’d rather watch over a match. It may not be the most progressive or thought-provoking piece of theatre around, but it’s a gripping story well told, with a hearty dose of humour thrown in – sometimes that’s absolutely enough.

GAY TIMES gives Vardy V Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial – 4/5

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