Hannah Cruz and Michael Urie in “The Da Vinci Code.” Photo by Gary Ng

“Life is full of secrets,” one character knowingly says in the latest offering from the Ogunquit Playhouse.

The folks at the legendary summer theater have mounted “The Da Vinci Code,” a thoughtful thriller that serves up a bit of alternate religious history to go along with the chills generated by its secrets.

This U.S. theatrical premiere of the show, adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Able from the best-selling novel by Dan Brown, brings an engrossing puzzler to the Ogunquit stage. Fans of the 2003 novel and 2006 movie version (starring Tom Hanks) will still likely enjoy seeing the story return to life in this theatrically reimagined way.

Lights flash and clues fly by, often in projected words and images on the walls of the recessed, cubelike stage, as symbologist Robert Langdon and cryptologist Sophie Neveu attempt to solve a murder and maybe, along the way, uncover age-old knowledge that could change the way the world thinks about Christianity.

Michael Urie takes the role of Langdon, a “Harvard geek” whose taste for solving mysteries is mismatched with a fear of personally going too far. He partners with police officer Neveu, played by Hannah Cruz, an intrepid researcher who, we learn, has a very personal stake in what they are after. The actors have undoubted chemistry, with Cruz more often sweetening the mix with shades of vulnerability.

As the show’s title implies, the duo finds a wealth of information, albeit encrypted, in the work of the great art and science master Leonardo Da Vinci. Hidden symbols and anagrams with double meanings abound as the plot about deadly coverups by mysterious religious cults develops. Belief-shattering discoveries seem just around the corner as mad monks and eccentric scholars add new levels of intrigue and adventure.


Charles Shaughnessy perfectly plays Langdon’s colleague Sir Leigh Teabing as the sort of droll senior intellectual you’d want to pop up in this sort of play. He offers a handful of laughs in this show, which has just a little fun with the characterizations but generally takes itself seriously.

A very buffed David T. Patterson plays the creepy assassin Silas, a man torn, both literally and emotionally, by the conflict between myth and truth that divides his troubled world.

While the first act of the roughly two-and-a quarter-hour production contains a taut series of problem-solving sequences, the second act catches up on a lot of exposition to provide for a satisfying resolution to most remaining questions. Judging by their response, the audience at the performance under review seemed to warmly welcome even just a bit of affection between Langdon and Neveu after the pair had such an eye-opening adventure together.

Mostly recorded music of an ominous nature and some arresting stop-action choreography, along with scene changes that take one from sacred to secular locales, help fashion this new-to-America play, directed by Leigh Toney after original direction by Luke Sheppard, into a gripping mystery at the Ogunquit Playhouse.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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