A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to join Capital Theatres in welcoming the stars of The Da Vinci Code to the outstanding Rosslyn Chapel, a centre-point location for Dan Brown’s novel and the inevitable climax of the film.
As difficult as it may be to remove oneself from the majesty all around, we sat down with Nigel Harman, Danny John-Jules, and Leigh Lothian to discuss their work in the production, as well as their places within such a juggernaut story, their spins and takes on these now known characters, and even about some gluten-free carrot cake…nothing was off the table.
Which suits Danny John-Jules perfectly.
Drawing these characters from the pages of literature onto the screen was in no doubt aided by the strong cast, along with the right direction. Playing two leads Robert Langdon and Sir Leigh Teabing, the pair have some substantial shoes to fill:
Harman: ‘ It’s a line people will draw, but our job is to offer something different – and that’s fine with me. It’s something we work hard with the directors and writers about to create something for us. I think there’s such uniqueness with the show as it unpicks levels of questions we don’t answer.
About censoring or changing parts of the show, Nigel was happy to report the theatrical nature meant the integrity of the piece remained.
‘It’s a good question, one which I hadn’t really considered – but with the aspects of violence with Silas (a key character and antagonist for the show), the creative team have been smart with how they demonstrate things. With the subjects of conspiracy, religion, and such we’ve maintained the psychological nature – as the projected goings-on within Sophie or Robert’s minds are catapulted against the show. It keeps the pace moving.’
For John-Jules, standing apart from Ian McKellen’s role was an important distinction to make:
“Like I said, if anyone walks out of that theatre mentioning Ian McKellen – I failed in my job. I’ve got a job to do, and I don’t do flops. You’ll have to drag me out if that ever happens. As far as credible Caribbean characters and actors go for mainstream television, there aren’t many. Rudolph Walker, me. When youngsters turn on the tv or come to this show, I want them to see characters like me.”
Undoubtedly, natural characterisation was a tremendous part for him, both in this role and all others:
John-Jules: ‘And the best part is the way the play is driven by the script, yeah, the characters come up through the script, not that the script is coming out with the characters… It’s always a big thing for me – where Nigel would be getting mad wanting to work through the script, but here I am still working on a character! Whether it’s a crazy space cat, or part of a rapping company, Rastafarian or you know, a spymaster or a Caribbean officer’.
But more than that, the production team seeks to bring something new – something different to what audiences have come to expect from both the book and film:
Lothian: “That’s the juxtaposition I have on stage, and we’re usually always onstage in some form or another. Reacting to each other. I think people who are fans will pick it up quickly, but I think they’re not going to come away thinking “Oh, I already knew that”. We take this story very much from Sophie’s perspective this time around. So that’s a fun angle to play with. I’m taking over from a role associated with action and police work in the film, and I get to run with that and watch the story unfold before me. It’s all very exciting.’
And on just what to expect, and how the liveness of theatre can tremendously aid the production, Lothian was excited to share details of the show’s magic:
Lothian: ‘There’s a blinder of a soundtrack, and there are some incredible visuals. It’s beautiful. Like it’s amazing how all these slots together – a lot of time and care have come into this set. To see these paintings sly onto the stage, under and through archways.
From Starlight Express, Shrek the Musical, Beautiful: Carole King and even to the twinkle toes of Strictly – music is an integral part of the trio’s lives and careers both on and off the stage, and it seems The Da Vinci Code speaks volumes to its cast and crew with its composition:
Harman: “Oh the soundtrack is phenomenal yes, it ties together so much of the show in a neat way. Everyone kept asking me “How are you doing this part?” and the music makes up for a lot of it – so much of the story is told within the music, and audiences might not realise this at first.
Lothian: ‘The music is everything, If I was watching, I feel that the scores for the individual characters feel like a totally different experience. Sophie’s theme, as the production very much takes the story from her perspective”
‘As I said earlier, the world’s a pretty terrifying place right now. If you want two hours of escapism, then come along, come and see our show’.
The Da Vinci Codes runs at the King’s Theatre from April 5th – April 9th tickets for which can be obtained here.
We’ll be joining the cast to crack the codes and uncover the truth. Will you?