This is in no way meant to be detrimental the rest of the cast, who were all admirable, but Hamlet is all about its protagonist and the success of any production rests largely on the shoulders of the actor playing this role, the most complex of all Shakespeare's characters.

The young prince must not only speak to us but also to himself, and it is this growing self-awareness which propels him into his uncertain madness.

The only problem I have with Max Day's performance of the Dane is to find enough superlatives to describe it. To juggle the myriad facets of Hamlet's personality - the petulant student, the intellectual seer, the playful joker, the troubled solipsist - is not easy and yet he did so with gravity, energy and grace.

Harder to capture still is the enigmatic quality which can pull an audience into the character's haunted consciousness. Again here he triumphed, in both his physical portrayal and his compelling handling of the major soliloquies. The impish humour he injected into the part was a delight to witness, as was the seamless way he managed the swift changes of mood.

To put it simply: this performance was absolutely stunning.

Credit must also go to the director, Nicola Haydn, for the production itself was imaginatively conceived, from the torch-lit opening to the bawdy staging of The Murder Of Gonzago, Hamlet's play within a play.

The appearance of the ghost of Hamlet's father provided a genuine jump-from-your-seat shock and the fluid switching between scenes propelled the action vigorously forward.

Its stark minimalism - plain black clothing, few props and brilliantly effective use of lighting - provided a space in which the characters could breathe (most notably in the comic turns of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern) and made it possible to appreciate the scale and power of Shakespeare's dramatic vision.

If theatre is meant to invigorate and inspire and delight, then this production did all those things and more. Ably supported, Day demonstrated that inexplicable charm and burning intelligence behind the eyes so essential to the role.