You know you’ve experienced a genuine one-man Fringe show when the guy who’s been performing on stage for the previous 50 minutes has to jump down, run to the tech desk at the back of the room and turn the house lights back up. It gives a homely feel to the whole experience. After all, anything too brash and hi-tech would simply feel too testosterone-filled to be truly ‘geek’ in the modern sense of the word.
Although the show’s blurb suggests Hayden Cohen might attempt to explain the rise of the geek - or human 2.0, where brains and attention-spans knock mere brawn into a cocked hat - instead this is a run through of what being a geek means in the modern world, from a love of ASCII Art (pictures made up of letters and symbols typed on a page) to the ability to play the themes to computer games and science fiction TV shows on a Stylophone.
A mixture of spoken word and songs, Cohen shows real wit and understanding, not least with his rewriting of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’, and his ‘confessional’ about being more into Star Wars than Star Trek.
Given that geeks are sometimes assumed to be completely wired up when it comes to technology and computer software, Cohen goes against expectations with his more serious-minded ‘re-telling’ of a parallel world’s equivalent of Facebook, and how the ‘liquid gold’ used to store its data eventually escapes into the environment with irreversible consequences for humanity. Some would argue that such a sci-fi idea is geek-central, but the serious point Cohen’s making is far more human: that we should control technology, rather than being controlled by it.Coming across as a genuine and likeable individual, Cohen anchors the show with vocal and guitar skills that are better than he wants you to expect. The result is an entertaining show that has something to say but does so without excessive force. As you’d expect from a geek.