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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in Edinburgh.

Two former Birmingham University students have headed to Edinburgh, hoping to prove that going to expensive London drama schools is not the only way for aspiring young actors to make their name.

Bromsgrove-born Tom Oakley and Ben Waring, from Edgbaston, are the inspiration behind a new Midlands-orchestrated production of Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead which they are taking to the world renowned Edinburgh Festival.

Supported by a cast entirely consisting of Birmingham University students past and present, it premiered back in June on local soil to a rapturous reception at the MAC theatre in Cannon Hill Park. And, over two nights, their amusing, entertaining efforts proved worthy of a wider audience.

But that was only a curtain raiser to the real action as they now launch a daunting 27-night run at the prestigious Fringe - ironically also the venue for the first production of Stoppard's play 40 years ago.

Some of Britain's finest performers have been discovered at Edinburgh's 60-year-old Festival, the largest arts festival in the world. And Oakley and Waring's Chimeric Productions' version of this well-known play could be the vehicle that helps launch the professional careers of any of the 12-strong cast and crew.

"Many people think that the only way to be successful is to go through drama school, most of which are London-based and cost a lot of money," said Oakley.

"But we felt that we have enough talent to better spend our funds on getting to the Fringe and showing what Birmingham can do.

"It's an expensive and time-consuming process, but we all believe this project has a great chance of success and are gladly doing all we can to raise the money we need".

The play, inspired by two characters from Shakespeare's Hamlet, received mixed reviews and small audiences when originally premiered at the 1966 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. But it was picked up by the National Theatre and produced there the following year where it became an instant hit.

Since then, it has been revived many times over the last 40 years, as well as being made into a film starring Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and Richard Dreyfuss.

But Chimeric Productions have found a fresh new way of presenting this challenging play by placing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the present day as 21st Century backpackers. And Dan Jennings as a bubbly, bouncy Rosencrantz and the taller, bespectacled Oakley, as his long-suffering sidekick Guildenstern, spark off each other throughout as comfortably as Morecambe and Wise in their heyday.

Mike Thompson, as the Player, also produces an eye-catching performance that suggests a bigger future.

That is what this entire production deserves too - assuming that history repeats and that, just like the original, Edinburgh can again be the springboard.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead is on until August 28 at "C Venue", Chambers Street, Edinburgh. 2.30pm every day. Tickets pounds 8.50/pounds 7.50 conc. Box Office: 0870 701 5105 or book online at www.edfringe.com. Further information available at the Chimeric Website: www.chimeric.info

CAPTION(S):

Tom Oakley (holding Skull), Dan Jennings, Catherine Makin, Lucy Fox, Hayley Kenna and Michael Thompson are off to Edinburgh
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 9, 2006
Words:525
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