Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code was adapted to the stage by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel and directed by Luke Sheppard. This novel is possibly the most difficult conceivable choice of literature to translate to theatre because of its many settings and illusive, introspective plot. However, dedication and skill on the part of the creators, and presumably a generous budget, have led to this transition being extremely successful.
The technology was seamlessly used for scene transitions and also introduced into the plot. It transformed the details of the plot, which are in danger of being far too cerebral for a visual medium, into impressive lights, videos, and drawings projected onto every point of the stage, simultaneously simplifying the mystery and improving the audience’s visual experience. A majority of the effectiveness of the book is due to the darkness of the drama and the sometimes disturbing heaviness of the storyline. The production was clearly dedicated to maintaining this narrative weight which was achieved through the aforementioned projections of worrying videos and of different numbers and words involved in the unfolding mystery. That darkness was also achieved through the chorus made up of the cast members who would speak significant lines in unison which kept the pace of the production up and made each line stand out as noteworthy as well as adding to the general uneasiness.
The cast, including Nigel Harman as the symbologist Robert Langdon, Hannah Rose Caton as Sophie Neveu, and Joshua Lacey as Silas, was incredibly skilled and their performances left nothing to be desired. The choreography by movement director Tom Jackson Greaves created an entirely unique level of meaning and made the performance that much more engaging and captivating. The actors’ bodies were made into another element of the visual and technological performance, which allowed them to tell this historical story of misled devotion in an intriguing and original way. One of the playwrights, Duncan Abel, said that it was important to the creators to “develop a shared vision for the piece” in an interview with playwrights in the Da Vinci Code Program, which is palpable throughout the production.
The Da Vinci Code is a confident piece of theatre that is never confused about what it is, which can be a danger of adapting popular fiction to the stage. The story, video and lighting design, set design, and most importantly the direction, were the unmistakable heroes of the evening.
The Da Vinci Code runs at the King’s Theatre from the 5th to the 9th of April 2022
Photograph by Johan Persson, courtesy of Capital Theatres