REVIEW: The Da Vinci Code at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

Nigel Harman and Hannah Rose Caton star in the stage adaptation of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre.

AD: Press night / gifted tickets

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Dan Brown is one of the most notable authors of the last two decades. The Da Vinci Code, which was released back in 2003, is easily one of his most recognised books. Selling a whopping eight million copies, it beat Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in becoming the biggest selling novel of the year.

The plot is complex, a murder mystery that entwines religion with family affairs, complete with cryptic coding and a plot twist not many would see coming, so you can understand why it not only topped book charts across the globe, but also went on to become a movie starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian Mckellen.

Admittedly I went into the show blind. I’ve never read the book or seen the film, so I was putting my trust into stage adapters Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Bell in the hopes that it would portray what I’m led to believe as one of Brown’s greatest pieces.

The Da Vinci Code follows the adventures of symbolist and professor Robert Langdon (Nigel Harman) and cryptologist Sophie Neveu (Hannah Rose Caton) as they work to crack a case of a string of murders in which they both mistakingly become suspects.

It’s fast-paced throughout, which means that if your mind decides to wonder for just a second, you may just find yourself wondering what’s going on. From what I’ve been told, the book packs a serious punch when it comes to details. My plus one informs me many have been cut out of the production, making it more of a whistle-stop tour that brushes over some notable parts in the book. That being said, the team still do a great job of packing a lot into a show of around the two-hour mark.

The cast of The Da Vinci Code, which plays at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until March 12

Admittedly it did in parts feel like someone had hit the fast forward button. Act One seemed to breeze by in the blink of the eye, however, this show is an absolute visual treat that had me hooked. Stage transitions and slick and stylish, with genius projections taking you from inside the Louvre to cathedrals and police chases, and even a flight from Paris to London; it’s the attention to detail that really gives this production the boost it needs to keep the audience engaged.

Choreography is often used effectively, although I sometimes failed to understand the need for cast members to continuously sit on the sidelines, simply watching on rather than actively engaging with the storyline. It felt like an unnecessary addition that sometimes distracted from the importance of what was unfolding on stage.

Nigel Harman (left), Hannah Rose Caton (centre) and Danny John-Jules in The Da Vinci Code

Harman and Caton worked well as the leads. There were elements of chemistry that added an extra spark here and there, but their platonic relationship held itself well with speckles of humour cropping up every once in a while to loosen the mood.

Joshua Lacey gives a solid performance as Silas, the monk, and his solo scenes are incredibly powerful and sometimes a little uncomfortable to watch as his character becomes more unhinged as the play rolls on. Meanwhile, Danny John-Jules is also a highlight as Sir Leigh Teabing, although it feels as though we don’t quite see as much of him as we should.

A visual feast that’s a truly engaging piece of theatre, The Da Vinci Code keeps you hooked throughout. Whether you’re a fan of the book or a first-timer like me, it’s worth grabbing a ticket for a thrilling night at the theatre.

The Da Vinci Code runs at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre until Saturday, March 12. Click here to book tickets. It also visits The Alexandra in Birmingham later this year.

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