The Da Vinci Code -Theatre Royal, Nottingham

Reviewer: Kerrie Walters

Writer: Dan Brown

Adaptor: Rachel Wagstaff

Director: Luke Sheppard

Originally a book by Dan Brown, the 2003 bestseller exploded into existence with the tagline, the greatest conspiracy of the last 2000 years is about to unravel. Certainly, the story piqued the interest of many a reader and went on to top best-seller lists worldwide before later being made into a film starring Tom Hanks and Sir Ian McKellen. Now adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel, The Da Vinci Code makes its stage debut at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham, its first stop on a new tour. Luke Sheppard brings to life a slick reworking of this beloved thriller that is certain to enthral all who see it, even if they happen not to be one of the 100 million people worldwide who bought a copy of the original novel.

While in Paris on business as a guest lecturer, Harvard professor Robert Langdon receives a troubling late-night phone call. As an expert in symbols and semiotics, he is called to assist police as the elderly curator of the Louvre has been murdered and with his body police find a puzzling cipher.

This leads him on a bread crumb trail through the works of Da Vinci, where he discovers a string of puzzles that had ingeniously been hidden in plain sight. The investigation sees Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu embark on an exhilarating cat and mouse chase through Paris and London to decipher the code.

David Woodhead has exquisitely designed the set for this show. As the audience is welcomed into the auditorium, they are greeted with a beautifully succinct representation of the Louvre building, complete with houselights and CCTV. This is coupled with the relentless drum music that plays into the auditorium creating an immediate feeling of tension in anticipation for the action to start.

With the central character being an expert on semiotics and symbolism, it is only right and proper that the action of this show be flanked by beautiful and striking imagery. On this front, the play does not disappoint. The imagery of the show manifests itself not only in the gallery of artwork we see in the set design but also within various movement sequences devised by Tom Jackson Greaves in which the company fluidly morphs from image to image as if they themselves are living paintings often depicting dark and sinister events. Greaves’ stunningly grotesque movement within this show really hammers home the subtext that it is trying to deliver. A particularly spectacular sequence happens when Silas, the fanatic monk is self-flagellating and in between these excruciatingly graphic acts of self-harm, he and the company move in and out of freeze-frame images steeped in religious iconography and ending with a beautifully tragic crucifix.

Joshua Lacey delivers an aggressive performance as Silas that is at times truly terrifying. He has encompassed the desperate nature of this character on many different levels which makes the denouement even more unsettling. Hannah Rose Caton makes her theatrical Debut as Sophie Neveu and finds the perfect balance of analytical puzzle-solving genius and wide-eyed naivety as the granddaughter of the murdered curator. The onstage partnership with Nigel Harman (Robert Langdon) works well and together they have developed a formidable team.

This play is an adrenaline-inducing adventure that will leave you guessing until the end.

Runs until 22 January 2022 and on tour

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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