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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Dan Simpson: Nerdsmith

Dan Simpson

Genre: Spoken Word

Venue: PBH Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth


Low Down

“A multi-verse of awesome spoken word from stand-up poet Dan Simpson (BBC, Glastonbury, Canterbury Laureate).”


Banshee Labyrinth is reminiscent of those heavy metal bars you might have tried to frequent when you were an angry young person. One of those places where you’d awkwardly sip a craft beer and gawp at long haired bikers and skeletal goths. The kind of dark, dingy place where those who repelled all things mainstream hung out. The kind of place you were far too nerdy to be at.

On the surface poetry appears as terrifying as counter-culture. It has rules. If you’re going to get along you need to learn the codes. You need to know how to look and how to behave.

Dan Simpson is all about dispelling our fears. He’s going to show us that we belong here.

And so, as we sit in the semi-darkness of the Labyrinth, in strolls a hipster. Not just a hipster though. Dan Simpson a hipster hybrid in the best possible sense. He’s a hipster-geek. Bearded and bespectacled with just the right amount of charming self-deprecation he launches straight into an effervescent poem lamenting the lot of the orange Pac-Man ghost, Clyde.

What follows is an introduction into both Simpson and poetry itself. What we learn is that Simpson’s love of science, technology and maths has mingled with his poetic leanings and the result is mesmerizingly meta. There’s exploration of the shape poem, a limerick that runs away with itself and poem that longs to be big.

This is a well-crafted fifty minutes that deserves to be seen on the strength of Simpson’s poetry alone. The mix of a delightfully half-hearted point system, an engaging technician who comes along for the ride and a line graph clap-o-meter simply add to the charm.

Yes, this is a show about science and maths; a fabulous final poem, for example, describes the love between an artist and a mathematician. Simpson delivers it with tongue-in-cheek delight as each mathematical metaphor is thrown to the audience who receive them with the giggles and groaning appreciation they deserve. However, the techy stuff is really a bit of a MacGuffin. The real theme is the artist as observer.

Simpson wants to show us that poetry can connect with everyone. He takes you by the hand and shines a light into this strange counter-culture that is poetry. He shows that if you’re a bit of a geek already and you know your Star Wars from your Star Trek you’ll be happy in the land of poetry slams. If you like the odd computer game and have some interest in the health of Schrodinger’s Cat, then you too can find something of value in a little wordplay alchemy.