Theatre: Hamlet Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

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The Independent Culture
In the third and final production of their autumn season, the Lyceum's cast take on Hamlet, under the direction of their own Kenny Ireland, who seems to have found in Denmark's rotten state a home-from-home. Having trimmed the text for pace rather than any monocular interpretation of its central character, Ireland approaches the play with great narrative vigour and honesty.

Ireland's open-minded vision is beautifully evoked in Robin Don's designs and Ace McCarron's inventive lighting. Elsinore becomes a steeply raked, grey promontory, over which storm clouds race on a great white sail of sheeting. If for nothing else, this production will be remembered for the appearance in gargantuan close-up of Brian Cox as Hamlet's ghostly father, projected on the sky itself.

Tom McGovern's tousle-haired Hamlet is not yet fully comfortable with some of the big soliloquies: elsewhere, though, he's fully in control of his material, and his depiction of how Ophelia's rebuttal tips Hamlet from suicidal introspection into a murderous fury is very moving. Around him, Ann Louise Ross offers an understated but agonised Gertrude, Max Gold a solid Horatio, and Russell Hunter a fascinating, dignified Polonius.

With its orthodox but bold approach, Ireland's production never lets the audience's attention out of its grasp, while revealing fresh perspectives on one of theatre's most familiar stories.

n To 2 December. Booking: 0131-229 9697 RICHARD LOUP-NOLAN