THE DA VINCI CODE
Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton, Tuesday 8th March 2022
Dan Brown’s best-selling thriller, having already been a film starring Tom Hanks, now comes to the stage in this slick and stylised adaptation, with Nigel Harmon in the leading role as nerdy action hero and symbologist, Robert Langdon, who finds himself accused of murder when a body is found in the Louvre with the deceased’s handwriting naming Langdon, among a load of gobbledy-gook. Langdon is an expert in gobbledy-gook and he teams up with the putatively French cryptologist, Sophie Neveu (Hannah Rose Caton). With no further ado, we’re off on a treasure hunt, with puzzles to solve and codes to crack.
Luke Sheppard’s direction keeps the cast of ten on stage most of the time, involving them in the action, vocally and often physically, as well as making their individual appearances as characters Langdon and Neveu encounter along the way. David Woodhead’s elegant set is dominated by Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man — you know the fellow, like Jim Morrison doing star jumps. Aided by Llyr Parri’s video and sound designs, the unfolding mystery is laid out before us. There’s a lot to listen to, a lot to keep up with.
Nigel Harmon makes for a personable Robert Langdon: the geekish enthusiasm, the mansplaining, the claustrophobia, are all here, and he is ably supported by Hannah Rose Caton’s Sophie, who is also full to the brim with exposition. Almost stealing the show is Red Dwarf’s Danny John-Jules as the eccentric Sir Leigh Teabing, clearly enjoying himself.
Alpha Kargbo’s Detective Fache charges around, shouting a lot, while Andrew Lewis is sympathetic as the murdered man, Sauniere (in flashbacks!). Joshua Lacey is a decidedly menacing presence as the self-flagellating assassin Silas.
The plot cracks along at speed. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel’s script could do with a couple of breathing spaces so we can digest each revelation, but thinking time is sacrificed in favour of pace. Otherwise, it’s a faithful adaptation that translates well into action, performed by a strong ensemble who work like a well-oiled machine.
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆