I had the pleasure of attending the performance of “Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial” at the Lowry in Salford. This intriguing production, adapted by Liv Hennessy and directed by Lisa Spirling, provided a captivating and humorous take on the infamous Wagatha Christie scandal.
From the moment the play began, it was evident that the overall production quality was top-notch. The script cleverly combined verbatim court transcripts with witty dialogue, adding an extra layer of hilarity to the unfolding drama. The adaptation by Liv Hennessy effectively captured the essence of the scandal, weaving together real-life events with moments of comedic brilliance.
The standout performances in the production were truly commendable. Lucy May Barker, in the role of Rebekah Vardy, delivered an exceptional portrayal. Barker flawlessly embodied the character, capturing both Vardy’s determination and vulnerability. Her comedic timing and deadpan delivery during Vardy’s testimony were particularly memorable, eliciting uproarious laughter from the audience.
Halema Hussain’s portrayal of the pundit added another layer of entertainment to the play. With skillful nuance, Hussain’s performance provided insightful commentary on the events unfolding in the trial, effectively serving as a metaphorical framing device. Nathan McCullen’s brief appearance as Wayne Rooney also left a lasting impact, showcasing his talent and ability to capture the essence of the footballer.
The technical aspects of the production were well-executed, with the lighting design playing a significant role in enhancing the storytelling. The transitions between real-life moments and messages were seamlessly executed, effectively guiding the audience through the intricacies of the scandal. However, as the play progressed, some repetition in the lighting cues became noticeable, slightly diminishing the impact of these transitions.
The atmosphere in the theatre was vibrant and filled with laughter throughout the performance. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the play, responding enthusiastically to the humorous and thought-provoking moments presented on stage. The effective balance between humour and drama kept the viewers engaged and invested in the unfolding narrative.
The duration of the performance, which lasted approximately two hours including an interval, allowed ample time for the story to unfold and the characters to develop. However, the pacing of the play was not entirely consistent. While Act 2 felt slightly rehashed and repetitive at times, Act 1 occasionally fell short in maintaining a consistently captivating pace. Despite these minor pacing issues, the overall engagement and impact of the production remained intact.
One of the most memorable aspects of the play was its clever use of an extended metaphor comparing the trial to a game of football. By employing two football pundits as metaphorical framing devices, the script effectively drew parallels between the courtroom drama and the strategies, rivalries, and tactics of a football match. This unique approach added depth and layers of meaning to the narrative, making it both entertaining and thought-provoking.
The set design, although basic, served its purpose by creating a suitable atmosphere for the trial. While the play primarily remained in one location, the simple yet effective set design allowed the focus to remain on the performances and the unfolding drama.
The actors brought their respective characters to life with skill and dedication. Laura Dos Santos portrayed Coleen Rooney with authenticity, effectively capturing the emotional turmoil and determination of the character. Lucy May Barker’s performance as Rebekah Vardy was exceptional, seamlessly transitioning between comedic moments and poignant vulnerability.
While the play as a whole was a fantastic piece of reactionary theatre, it had a few areas that could be improved. As mentioned earlier, the pacing could have been more consistent throughout, particularly in Act 1. Additionally, some repetition of information in Act 2 diminished the impact of certain revelations and slowed the overall momentum of the play. Tightening the script and eliminating unnecessary repetition would have further enhanced the audience’s engagement and investment in the story.
Despite these minor shortcomings, “Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial” proved to be a remarkable piece of theatrical storytelling. It successfully captured the essence of the scandal, offering a witty and thought-provoking exploration of fame, betrayal, and the complexities of modern celebrity culture.
With its verbatim court transcripts, the play presented an authentic and hilarious portrayal of the events surrounding the Wagatha Christie scandal. The use of humor as the forefront, coupled with moments of genuine drama, allowed the audience to experience a range of emotions and reflect on the larger themes at play.
The four-star rating is well-deserved for this fantastic piece of reactionary theatre. “Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial” entertained and engaged the audience, provoking laughter, introspection, and conversation long after the final curtain call. This production exemplified the power of theatre to entertain, educate, and challenge societal norms, making it a must-see for both football enthusiasts and those intrigued by scandal and its consequences.