The enduring appeal of ‘Wagatha’, now available in theater and screens

Exclusive to Infobae from New York times.

LONDON – In November last year, with its stage turned into a football green, “Vardy v. Rooney: The Wagatha Christie Trial” at London’s Wyndham Theatre, promised its audience (which nearly filled the venue) a match, where it was The two women are on stage trying to score a goal.

But as two critics shouted from the sidelines, it wasn’t the actresses who were facing football stars, but the women who were married, caught in the middle of an Instagram spat that turned into a high-profile defamation case. The profile that captured the attention of the British public last May exposed the machinations of British celebrities and the charismatic world of English football.

“I see it as a comedy about morals,” said Liv Hennessy, the play’s writer, who returned to the West End last week at the Ambassadors Theatre. “For us, it’s a theatrical way of looking at the way people act in our society today.”

The play is just one of many recent adaptations of the real-life case made famous as the “Wagatha Christie” trial, in which Rebekah Vardy, wife of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy, sued Coleen Rooney, wife of the former Manchester United star. Wayne Rooney for defamation. What is the motive behind the situation? Rooney’s accusation on Twitter that Vardy leaked his personal information to the British press.

Footballers’ wives and girlfriends – known in the UK by the acronym WAG (which means “wives and girlfriends”) – have long followed the tabloids, but Rooney’s post caused a scandal in the line. Their elevation into the legal field resulted in extensive coverage, attracting high-profile lawyers, and unveiling the personal lives of both women.

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The legal component of the all-out saga came to an end in July last year, when the High Court of Justice ruled against Vardy. The ruling confirmed that the reputational damage from the scandal was not defamation and ordered Vardy to pay nearly all of Rooney’s legal costs totaling £1.7m ($1.9m).

But the strength of the cause as history withstood. Producers, documentarians, podcast producers, and journalists find the revelations about the trial and its cast of characters too compelling to dissect, all helped by the availability of court transcripts from the week-long case.

“Vardy v. Rooney: A Courtroom Drama,” which was broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK in December, said Thomas Popeye, creative director of Chalkboard TV, which produced a two-episode drama. “And we literally didn’t write it. We took the scripts and reworked them.”

Along with West End play and Channel 4, offerings for fans of the feud include the BBC’s ‘It’s…Wagatha Christie’ podcast and the Discovery + documentary ‘Vardy vs Rooney: The Wagatha Trial’. Rooney has signed a deal with Disney+ for a three-episode documentary that will look at the events leading up to the trial, and a retelling of the saga is reportedly being considered as part of a “Very British Scandal” series.

“We can all identify with the idea of ​​betrayal, especially by someone we trust,” Popeye said. “And on Vardy’s part, we can all relate to our disbelief.”

In his 2019 social media post, Rooney described how he went through a sting operation to expose the traitor, posting fake stories that were only visible to one account, Vardy’s, in order to test if they would end up appearing on The Sun. , London. tabloid.

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The publication’s popularity led to Rooney being dubbed “Agatha Christie”—an actress for WAG and Agatha Christie, a crime novelist—for her detective work. Vardy quickly denied that she was the leaker and sued Rooney for defamation.

“We’re definitely interested in people’s tragedies and what happens in famous people’s lives,” said Adrian Bingham, a professor of modern British history at the University of Sheffield who studies media and gender issues. He added that the women’s involvement in the world of football gave their dispute resonance with a wider audience, while the legal case gave the mainstream media a legitimate reason to cover it. The producers of the adaptations say they have asked their lawyers to review the scripts, lest they be accused of defamation.

Rebecca Twoomey, an entertainment reporter who has covered the two women closely, said that while celebrity gossip could easily be dismissed as frivolous, the two opponents at trial were working-class women who charted an inspiring course for others like them.

“We like to put people on pedestals and then knock them down,” he said, adding that many people enjoy the act of modern pantomime. “You might think they’re sets of aired WAGs, but we’re talking about two clever and cunning women.”

However, Bingham said the enduring appeal of high drama “Wagata Christie” is also simple.

He added, “The reason people are telling this issue is not because it is insightful.” “Because it’s a great story, with great lines.”

From left, Jonathan Broadbent, Lucy May Parker, Laura dos Santos and Tom Turner on stage at Wyndham’s Theater in London. (Tristram Kenton via The New York Times)

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