Ambassador Theatre, London
Adapted by Liv Hennessy
Directed by Lisa Spirling
Sporting possibly the longest title to be found in London right now, Vardy v Rooney : The Wagatha Christie Trial is playing in the West End's Ambassador Theatre before heading out to a run of away fixtures across the country.
Based on the court transcript of Rebekah Vardy’s (spoiler alert) failed libel action against Coleen Rooney, and lasting for as long as a typical football match including injury time, Liv Hennessy fillets down the seven days of High Court evidence into a slick one-two of drama that slots home a brilliant explanation of Rooney’s exposé of Vardy’s leaking of her private life to The Sun newspaper. With the beautiful game running through the heart of show, Hennessy’s script offers up the throw-in of a couple of court-side pundits who deftly sidestep the story’s more cumbersome legal details, allowing the cast to take a wicked deflection with the narrative and keep the audience gripped as the play’s end-to-end storytelling unfolds.
The pace is fast, witty and perceptive - and it’s a mark of the show’s role as a record of very modern history, that nearly all of the laughs come from the trial’s verbatim transcripts. What brings the dryness of the English legal system to life however is the outstanding performances from Lucy May Barker and Laura Dos Santos as, respectively, Vardy and Rooney, with equally brilliant turns from Tom Turner as Rooney’s barrister David Sherborne and Jonathan Broadbent as Vardy’s silk Hugh Tomlinson. Under Lisa Spirling’s direction all four leads exquisitely capture the essence of their characters in a crackingly crafted combination of caricature and credibility. Dos Santos goes so far as to elicit a touch of sympathy towards the humiliation that Coleen Rooney has endured, with dignity, for years.
Pitch-side, the show’s creatives have a fine game too. Polly Sullivan’s set and costumes capture both the gravitas of the courtroom alongside the stiletto-spiked accoutrements of WAG-dom. Likewise Johanna Town’s lighting plots keep the tempo slick.
For an evening of informative and often hilarious entertainment, Vardy v Rooney hits the back of the net.
Runs until May 20th, then on tour
Photo credit: Pamela Raith