trio da vinci

Hannah Rose Caton (Sophie Neveu) Danny John-Jules (Sir Leigh Teabing)  and Nigel Harman (Robert Langdon)

The Da Vinci Code

The Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton


Anyone familiar with Dan Brown’s bestselling novel turned blockbuster film, starring Tom Hanks will no doubt be intrigued to know how this complicated and controversial story of Catholic conspiracy could possibly make the transition into a theatrical production.

A daunting task in the very capable hands of playwrights, Rachel Wagstaff and Abel Duncan who are no strangers to bringing well known thrillers to the stage, having worked together previously on The Girl on the Train.

They do not disappoint with their fifth collaboration, creating a clever and fast-paced adaptation that crams in the twists and turns of the novel in under two hours.

The Da Vinci Code begins with the brutal murder of Jacques Sauniere, the curator of the Louvre in Paris. His body is discovered by police in the pose of the Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, alongside a series of baffling codes and a puzzling message that seemingly implicates historical symbologist, Professor Robert Langdon.

Langdon escapes police custody with the assistance of cryptologist and Sauniere’s granddaughter, Sophie Neveu who discover that her grandfather was part of a secret society, The Priory of Sion, whose aim is to protect the location of a closely guarded religious secret that could potentially bring down Christianity. Together they attempt to crack the codes and solve the anagrams and riddles that will lead them to the Holy Grail.

Nigel Harman is comfortable in the lead role and gives a natural and believable performance as the claustrophobic academic and unlikely hero of the piece, Robert Langdon. Hannah Rose Caton as Sophie Neveu has an endearing likeability and gives a well-matched performance and together the two worked well.  

Joshua Lacy gives a convincing performance as the unhinged, fanatical monk, Silas giving us a balance of threatening, yet vulnerable.

Danny John-Jules plays his roles as Sir Leigh Teabing with energy and flair and despite the slight sound/microphone issue continued without disruption.

There were good performances from the remaining cast members, both in their individual roles and when working together as a well-choreographed ensemble. The actors sit along the side of the stage when they weren’t involved in the scene, blending into the walls and almost becoming invisible in their dark hooded jackets, yet at the same time adding intensity and a disturbing presence.

This production is dominated by clever technology and excellent visual effects, designed by Andrzej Goulding. Projection is used throughout to display the formation of various codes, symbols, sketches and paintings that seamlessly appear and disappear from the walls and ceilings and to indicate the key locations and passage of time; in tandem with an ingenious set designed by Mark Woodhead we are transported between scenes set in the Louvre to Westminster Abbey and various churches in between with ease and fluidity. 

Set against a backdrop of the church and art throughout the ages, it’s certainly very informative. The play moves at pace and there is a lot to absorb in a short timeframe which may not be a draw for some audience members. Having said that I found it a lot easier to follow than the film and it held my attention throughout.

Director Luke Sheppard clearly had his work cut out to navigate the complexities and challenges involved with bringing this production to life, this is well executed and he succeeds in delivering an elegant and atmospheric piece that has the audience engrossed. Whether you are a fan of The Da Vinci Code or not, this is an interesting story that is well worth seeing. 

Emily Whitehead


Index page Grand Reviews A-Z Reviews by Theatre