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Shakespeare fan takes on title role for Romford Summer Theatre's Macbeth in Raphael Park

PUBLISHED: 15:00 16 May 2019

The Romford Summer Theatre group is putting on its own production of Shakespeare's Macbeth in Raphae'ls Park this July. Picture: Louise Richardson

The Romford Summer Theatre group is putting on its own production of Shakespeare's Macbeth in Raphae'ls Park this July. Picture: Louise Richardson

Archant

Instead of swearing, Andrew Chesney quotes Macbeth.

Romford Summer Theatre's previous  production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2017 in Raphael's Park: Picture: RSTRomford Summer Theatre's previous production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in 2017 in Raphael's Park: Picture: RST

Recently, Andrew has begun listening to Shakespeare's Macbeth during his commutes.

Now, when someone cuts him off on the road, the angry anti-hero's lines come spilling out.

The 38-year-old from Colchester is preparing to play Macbeth in the Romford Summer Theatre's production of the Scottish play.

"I'm kind of living and breathing it all the time right now," Andrew said.

The Romford Summer Theatre put on Comedy of Errors in 2013. Picture: Barry KirkThe Romford Summer Theatre put on Comedy of Errors in 2013. Picture: Barry Kirk

Each year, the theatre performs one of Shakespeare's plays in Raphael Park. For only the second time in its more than 50-year history, the theatre is doing a tragedy.

Andrew's life has been a series of hit-and-runs with Shakespeare, but he is still new to acting. Still, the rookie nabbed the titular role in the June and July shows and is working to put his own twist on the character.

When he was around 15, Andrew was introduced to Macbeth in school. He said it was the first time he felt engaged by Shakespeare.

"I remember thinking, 'One day it would be great to have a go at that'," Andrew said about the role of Macbeth. "I never thought I would actually do it."

The Romford Summer Theatre performed William Shakespeare's A Midsummers Night's Dream in Raphael Park in 2017. Picture: RSTThe Romford Summer Theatre performed William Shakespeare's A Midsummers Night's Dream in Raphael Park in 2017. Picture: RST

Andrew enlisted for the navy a few years later. Titanic had just come out and he was enamoured with Kate Winslet. In his search for her other movies, he came across Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. He quickly bought a copy of the full play.

Andrew, who was a navy engineer, became known on ship for reciting Hamlet while working.

Years passed with Andrew studying and reading Shakespeare, but he never stepped across the aisle into acting until a few years ago when he saw a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

"I got the bug for it," he said.

So Andrew emailed local amateur groups, looking for a role. He picked up a few small roles here and there before landing Macbeth.

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Andrew and his siblings used to quiz each other on famous film quotes as children, which have made memorizing the lines relatively easy.

Even in classic action films such as Back to the Future and Indiana Jones, Andrew's favourite scenes were always the ones with people speaking.

"Especially with Shakespeare, it's like song lyrics," he said. "There's a rhythm and pattern. It's almost like memorizing a melody."

This has allowed Andrew to focus on putting his own spin on the character.

"He is all of these things we expect: passionate, angry and ambitious," Andrew said. "But the key for him is his love for his wife."

He and Sara Thompson, who plays Lady Macbeth, have been focusing on the pair's relationship.

When studying the book in school, Andrew said his teacher taught him Macbeth is a tragic hero and Lady Macbeth coerces him. He now disagrees with this. While each character may have dark leanings, Andrew says their marriage is what makes them truly evil.

"Together they're like the perfect storm," Andrew said.

Specifically, Andrew remembers learning to interpret the famous "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" soliloquy Macbeth delivers after learning of Lady Macbeth's death as the protagonist being numb.

After studying to become the character, he now disagrees.

"It's the point when it all starts to come crashing down," Andrew said.

Although he has not yet perfected it, Andrew said he hopes to show Macbeth's overwhelming grief in those lines. After all, the character has just lost the most important thing in the world to him.

The cast has been rehearsing since April. Shows will be at 8pm on Thursday, June 27 to Saturday, June 29 and Thursday, July 4 to Saturday, July 6. A matinee performance will be 3pm Sunday, June 30.

Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at www.ticketsource.co.uk.

Andrew said RSF has been welcoming and his only regret is not acting earlier.

"I'm too old to play Romeo now," he said, "and Hamlet is pushing it."

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