Invokation of Lady Macbeth from industrial rock outfit Black Sun Drum Korps
Intense, visceral take on Shakespeare inspired by cut-up writing technique
Thanks to the saturation of Macbeths, it’s rare for a production to escape predictable interpretations, yet Invokation of Lady Macbeth cracks the script and lets the darkness escape. Evolving from Drum Major Russell MacEwan’s industrial rock outfit Black Sun Drum Korps has been reworking Shakespeare’s tale of regicide for the past 18 months. Performances at London’s BDSM nightclub Torture Garden, Glasgow’s Buzzcut Festival developed Macbeth into a ferocious fusion of pounding percussion and sinister script.
‘I found studying Shakespeare quite dry, even those plays that have got magic and sex and death,’ says writer Ale Robertson. ‘How can you make it boring when there is murder and betrayal? It’s great stuff: what we try to do is keep those things fresh.’ By using the cut-up technique, ‘invented by William Burroughs and most famously used by David Bowie,’ Robertson explains, Black Sun Drum Korps have re-imagined Shakespeare. ‘We’ve changed a fair bit of the existing text into something is more occult.’
The focus on Lady Macbeth, Russell admits, was a surprise: across ten previous Invokations, her story seemed to demand attention. ‘The theme is power,’ he says. ‘In our version, Lady Macbeth is way more political, way more controlling. I think her strength hasn’t been explored.’ Strength in Invokation comes from the use of industrial percussion and the group’s intense drumming, evoking a visceral horror and the past glories of bands like Test Department and Swans (the latter’s Jarboe has provided vocals for some of Black Sun Drum Korps’ cut-ups).
While most Shakespearean adaptations rely on the poetry, Invokation makes the themes of power and brutality audible and visible, celebrating the hidden horror beneath the fine words and splitting open the bard’s uncompromising vision of political disorder.
Summerhall, Edinburgh, Wed 27, Fri 29 & Sat 30 Nov