The very fact they tried it should be enough. Hamletmachine is an extraordinarily dense, demanding, unconventional theater text–a sort of jagged jazz dream dialectic built around one of the central works of Western civilization. Brilliant and difficult. And a bitch to stage, I imagine, since the stage directions are often figurative and the author, Heiner Miller, is an East German whose work hasn’t been seen east of LA or west of New York till now. So it was exciting that the Chicago Actors Ensemble even attempted the thing. And plain amazing that they’ve succeeded, not only conveying a clear vision of the work but making it their own. I saw the CAE Hamletmachine at this year’s Off-Off Loop Theatre Festival, and it was far and away the best thing there. Unless director Richard Helweg and his cast have gone suddenly stupid, it should be worth seeing during this longer, home theater run. Chicago Actors Ensemble, through June 14. Friday and Saturday, 8 PM; Sunday, 2 PM. $7.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Scott Stockwell.