The Wagatha Christie Trial heads to Brighton Theatre Royal

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial heads to the Theatre Royal Brighton from June 15-17 promising to get to the heart of the trial that enthralled us all.
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Lucy May Barker plays Rebekah Vardy and Laura Dos Santos plays Colleen Rooney in the piece which promises a verbatim account, adapted from seven days of High Court transcripts by Liv Hennessy (finalist in the Paines Plough’s Women’s Prize for Playwriting) and directed by Lisa Spirling (artistic director of Theatre503).

From sting operations to sensational headlines, it reveals what went on behind closed doors in the case that turned social media sleuthing into high drama. Audiences can see first-hand, and in the words of Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney, how the extraordinary week in court played out.

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The play, as Laura says, was a one-off try-out performance which just grew and grew rather like the trial itself did – though Laura confesses she didn't follow it particularly closely at the time: “I'm not on social media and I didn't know the whole story. I was a little bit under a rock but I've come out of it for this show!”

Lucy May Barker (Rebekah Vardy) and Laura Dos Santos (Coleen Rooney) in Vardy V Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial. ©Tristram KentonLucy May Barker (Rebekah Vardy) and Laura Dos Santos (Coleen Rooney) in Vardy V Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial. ©Tristram Kenton
Lucy May Barker (Rebekah Vardy) and Laura Dos Santos (Coleen Rooney) in Vardy V Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial. ©Tristram Kenton

Lucy on the other hand was very interested: “It was about these two very wealthy women who had this very public argument and they did it because they had the means to do it. I think if you and I had a row Instagram I'm not sure I would take you to court or vice versa but the point was that they could. These women had the money and they thought they were allowed to do whatever they wanted and the fact is that we just like to watch. I think there's an element of schadenfreude about all the interest. People like to watch the downfall and the misfortune of famous people. Some people do it in quite a mean way and some people just do it in quite a hard-nosed way.”

Part of the interest though, as Lucy says, is that the play rejects the narrative that a lot of the media created around the women: “We show the side to them that is human. They are perceived as these women who were in the media but we see another side to them in this and we hope that people will come away from the show thinking that there's maybe a bit more to it than they thought.”

But how did it get that far?

As Laura says: “It was reported that Colleen did try to settle out of court but they both had their reputation to protect and neither of them could back down at the end of the day. I think in hindsight probably neither of them would have wanted for it to go that far and as I say there were reports that Colleen tried to settle it out of court but that would have meant conceding and she didn't want to. For Rebekah she was being accused of doing something that she was adamant that she hadn't done and she felt she had to pursue that. We look at it and think of it as fairly low stakes and entertaining, these two famous women having this huge public argument. But for them it was very high stakes. It was really important to them.”

Tickets from Brighton Theatre Royal.