The theatre version of Vardy vs Rooney comes to the Dublin stage

It seems like an unusual thing to do – adapt a recent trial for the stage. But then the courtroom drama between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney was no ordinary trial either.

And now the theatrical adaptation Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial is coming to Dublin, direct from the West End for a strictly limited run at the Gaiety Theatre from June 5-7.

Based on the transcripts from the trial, the play has been running in London since November where the ins and outs of a story stranger than fiction has been keeping audiences enthralled.

Vardy V Rooney has been adapted from seven days of High Court transcripts by Liv Hennessy and is directed by Lisa Spirling with  Lucy May Barker as Rebecca Vardy and Laura Dos Santos as her fellow Liverpudlian Coleen Rooney.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial – Pamela Raith Photography. Pic: Supplied

Though most of us followed the goings on via the media, the documentary theatre piece brings people behind the closed doors of the courtroom just over a year ago when Rebekah Vardy lost her libel case against Coleen Rooney.

Lucy May admits she was fascinated when the trial was ongoing just over a year ago.

‘I was obsessed to the point of it being unhealthy,’ says the actress. ‘ I took an earlier gym class so that I could: sit in my towel and catch up on my phone.’

Her co-star Laura was completely the opposite.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial – Pamela Raith Photography. Pic: Supplied

‘I’m not really on social media. So, that initial post that Coleen put up,. I didn’t have any kind of knowledge of the whole thing until it was in court, and it was being shown the little snippets on the news at the end of the day,’ she says.

‘For me, being offered this job and reading the transcripts was my way into it. So it’s great having Lucy in the room because she’s  a real authority on all things Wagatha which was really useful.’

As someone who doesn’t deal with social media, the whole idea of the trial was something bizarre to Laura.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial – Pamela Raith Photography. Pic: Supplied

‘It is eye-opening,’ admits the Liverpudlian. ‘Initially, I found it quite interesting that Coleen’s private account on Instagram has 300 followers. But when you put that into context of the fact that her public account has almost one million, so you kind of realise this is a different world. I find that: a bit scary. It certainly hasn’t made me want to go on social media.’

Laura and Lucy May had never met before bagging the roles in a production that made headlines before it was even staged, such was the interest in the subject matter.

And the mad journey they’ve been on is one that they have all relished.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial – Pamela Raith Photography. Pic: Supplied

‘We all had an idea, maybe, of what it could be, and what the reactions could be,’ says Lucy May. ‘But there’s just something magical about bringing something completely new to an audience — you’re kind of jumping off a cliff. You have no idea what the reaction is going to be, and it’s just so thrilling and so exciting. And of course, the other brilliant thing about this industry is that you’re thrown into a really intense project and rehearsal process because you’re all trying to make this thing that is going to bring joy and interest to audiences. So you get really close, and it’s one of the loveliest companies I’ve ever worked with. Honestly, the group of people is fantastic.’

But at the heart of the story is a betrayal of trust that bizarrely made its way to the courtroom.

‘Coleen obviously is a woman who values her privacy very much,’ says Dos Santos. ‘And so when she feels those people that she considers her close people are betraying her, it really rattles her.’

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Vardy v Rooney, The Wagatha Christie Trial – Pamela Raith Photography. Pic: Supplied

Dos Santos doesn’t think Rooney and Vardy were ever friends, more acquaintances who were in the same circle. And that’s one of the things she thinks is clarified by the court transcripts they’ve turned into a drama.

‘It was constantly reported that they were friends and that they have had this big fall out,’ says Lucy May who plays Rebekah Vardy.

‘What the play does is it shows you the truth of the matter, and we have so much information so brilliantly, concisely edited,  into almost 90 minutes of match highlights. You get all of these little nuggets of information, but that you didn’t get when you saw the trial through certain media outlets.’

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

The Wagatha Christie Trial. Pic: Wagatha Play

Given there was so much to condense down, it’s not surprising.

You might think this drama would be like sitting through another court case but the humour is in the fact that the characters read out their own social media messages that were given in evidence.

‘The comedy comes from what someone is saying on the witness stand versus what they were saying at the time,  private messages, Teng stuff,’ says Laura. ‘It’s when you put those things next to each other for an audience that’s where the humour is. That’s where the comedy is, and that’s where the fun I think of the show really lies.’

The drama really does shine a light on the fact that the whole action was somewhat ludicrous.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

The Wagatha Christie Trial. Pic: Wagatha Play

‘There so many contradictions between the messages that are there as evidence that they’ve got off the phones from 2016 to 2018,’ Lucy May says. ‘If you questioned me about a message that I’d sent six years ago, seven years ago. I don’t think I’d know,’ Lucy May says, pointing to the fact that messages removed from their context can have a different meaning.

‘Everything is about context and intent,’ she adds. ‘ You can say the nicest thing in the world to someone, but with really horrible, nasty intent. The words can be lovely, but the intention can be not so. There’s a  whole area of that the play explores, which I find constantly interesting. Every single night I feel like I find something new.’

Throughout the case it was inevitable that the public took sides and while Rebekah Vardy lost her action against Coleen Rooney, Lucy May feels that ultimately there were no winners.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Coleen and Wayne Rooney leave court after giving evidence in the “Wagatha Christie” libel trial at the High Court of Justice in London. Pic: Getty Images

‘The time that it took away from their lives, the emotional toll of having something like that hang over you,’ she says. ‘But they both could afford to fight this fight, whereas if you and I had a row on Instagram, I personally have not got the money to take you to court.

‘They ultimately have the means and the time and the money to have this fight.’

Neither actress wants to take sides as they have to play their parts as truthfully as they can.

‘We’re trying to find the truth and the humanity,’ says Laura. ‘Maybe this is unfair, but I think it is easier for me in some ways, because Coleen is very open and honest. There is no agenda, and so what you see is what you get with her.

the theatre version of vardy vs rooney comes to the dublin stage

Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, leaves the Royal Courts of Justice following the final day of the high-profile trial dubbed by the media as “Wagatha Christie” case where Rebekah Vardy is suing Coleen Rooney for libel after being publicly accused of leaking private stories to the press. Pic: Getty Images

‘But really what we both tried to explore is the humanity of these two women and bring that to an audience. We don’t want to judge them  —  you can do that yourself if you want to.

But what we are trying to show in the production is how these women ended up here and the decisions they made, good or bad. That’s what we explore.’

And as an actor, both have to keep their opinions to themselves.

‘Whatever my opinions are as a person is separate to what I have to do as an actress,’ says Lucy May. ‘Rebekah’s truth is that she did not do this. So it’s my job to play her truth. Whatever way an audience wants to interpret that is up to them.’

Vardy v Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial is at the Gaiety Theatre from June 5-7 tickets from €21.50 via and the Gaiety Box Office.

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