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BrumHour saw The Da Vinci Code at the invitation of Wolverhampton Grand.
By Eleanor Lawson twitter.com/elle_lawson
Review: The Da Vinci Code at Wolverhampton Grand
Directed by Luke Sheppard
The curator of the Louvre is found murdered, splayed naked on his back in the middle of the world’s most famous museum. Across his chest is a symbol, scrawled in his own blood. Detectives call in Professor Robert Langdon, a renowned expert in symbology, to uncover the reason why a dying man would arrange himself into a tableau of meanings not amiss from the paintings hung on the wall around him. Except, Langdon is unaware that the dying man also wrote his name on the walls of the Louvre: P.S – Find Robert Langdon.
The Da Vinci Code achieved astronomical success when the novel was published in 2003, with the whole world hooked on Dan Brown’s theological thriller. Few books have sparked such a reaction – and a deeply divided one at that. While the thriller has sold 80 million copies in more than 44 languages, it’s also received its fair share of backlash. Salman Rushdie said it was “a novel so bad that it gives bad novels a bad name”, whilst Stephen Fry called it “arse gravy of the worst kind”.
So how does the show hold up?
I’ve never read the book or seen the film, so I went in relatively fresh albeit with some knowledge of the story’s main driving force. You can’t completely escape the cult of The Da Vinci Code. The show delivers the pulse-racing atmosphere you want from a thriller, with the added tension of a story that transfers these concerns onto an epic, existential mystery. Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel have adapted the book so that the show flows effortlessly from one code to the next – at no point are you clock-watching.
Nigel Harman is a sweet, introverted recluse in the form of the academic Robert Langdon, playing the stereotypical nerd of the piece, albeit with a slightly jarring American accident. However, it’s really Hannah Rose Caton as Sophie Neveu who is the beating heart of the piece, as she struggles to adjust to a new world without her estranged grandfather in it and tries to piece together the clues he left behind. The two have great chemistry, to the point where a romantic relationship is not made explicit, but you hope that their characters don’t part after the story ends.
Danny John-Jules, of Red Dwarf and Death in Paradise fame, is a complete scene-stealer as Sir Leigh Teabing, the eccentric English billionaire with a life-time’s interest in the Holy Grail, while Joshua Lacey is compelling as a masochistic cult sycophant.
The play is directed beautifully by Luke Sheppard, bringing the thriller to life with adrenaline and heart. In particular, the use of set and projections are absolutely stunning. The trail of clues are projected across the stage, as both physical embodiments and as the clouds of thoughts scrambling around Robert and Sophie’s heads.
It’s a stage thriller of the highest quality, The Da Vinci Code is at Wolverhampton Grand until 12th March 2022. The UK Tour currently continues until 30th July 2022, see tour dates here: davincicodeonstage.com. See upcoming productions at Wolverhampton Grand here: grandtheatre.co.uk/whats-on