Arrest That Poet!

Sat 2nd – Wed 13th August 2014


Amber Roberts

at 10:18 on 10th Aug 2014



Danny Chivers gives a genuine and passionate autobiographical performance through the medium of poetry and storytelling. As a highly intelligent professor, he gives an illuminating critique of the police, society, and capitalism. He emphasises climate change as the biggest single issue of our time, and takes the audience on a journey through his eco-war. He captivates the audience for an hour and a half without fail, and leaves us wanting more. If you’re remotely interested in politics or the environment, this is a must see.

As a seemingly harmless and endearing character who has been arrested four times, Chivers' story highlights the fact that if you’re in trouble with the law, you haven’t necessarily done something wrong. He was one of the impassioned protestors in the Climate Camp in Heathrow airport who stopped the third runway from being built. Here, the police searched and confiscated items like crayons, walking sticks and soap without warrant.

Chivers tells many more tales of gross police misconduct; of riot police attacking, hitting and kicking his fellow protesters black and blue, stealing his camera to delete the evidence and then chucking him in a police van.

Chivers does well to make this relatively serious subject matter not just light-hearted but bordering on hilarious. He does this by adding off-hand remarks such as that if the police were ‘doing things by the book’, it must be ‘some dark gothic novel.’

Danny has a very animated, pointed style of storytelling, every word perfectly clear. His poetry is equally witty, but you get the impression he isn’t there for the performance, but for the cause. It is poetry with a purpose. His belief in non-violent direct action as the best method of encouraging social change is clear: ‘Yes reduce your carbon footprint, and then use it to kick some ass.’

Particularly amusing elements includ his renaming of the riot police training centre in Gravesend as ‘Riot Land’, a sort of theme park fuelled by ‘pent-up paranoia’ and ‘state insecurity’. He rounded up his show particularly well, with a sarcastic list of what NOT to do. DO NOT challenge the status quo, or you could end up in a police cell with over two grand in fines and legal fees.

Unlike most of the acts at the fringe, his performance is more of a political story, rather than a performance, but I would not say this was to its detriment. His story is one of immense courage. If Danny is a criminal, then we need more criminals of his sort, if only to make the world a better place.


Alex Green

at 10:25 on 10th Aug 2014



Danny Chivers is an everyman storyteller and environmental activist. His ninety minute solo performance held his admittedly small crowd’s attention for it’s full length, not something the average Fringe performer could manage. Arrested on a number of occasions for various protest stunts, Chivers chose to focus on a recent incident in which he was arrested for aggravated trespass after climbing an EDF power station tower.

This may make you feel that such a devoted environmentalist would be difficult to identify with. This couldn’t be further from the truth. A self-proclaimed ‘bookish boy from Bristol’, Chivers was likeable from the off. His self-deprecating humour and emphatic delivery gave the impression that he was genuinely confiding his private thoughts to the crowd.

He was undoubtedly overqualified for the job: a BSc in environmental biology, an MSc in nature, science and environmental policy and an MProf in leadership for sustainable development. Safe to say that he knew his stuff. Not once did the performance descend into lecturing. Rather, the performance seemed like a political conversation aimed at provoking thought in the audience rather than pushing an agenda.

Seeing as Chivers has been involved with The Guardian as well as other major publications, the venue and audience size of around 20 appeared to be below his normal standard. It seemed like he relished the intimacy. Whilst his poetry sometime strayed off point and lost its flair, it’s aim appeared to be more to evoke an emotional response rather than to contain lyrical quality. He was at his best when recalling anecdotes of government infiltrators, most famously Mark Kennedy.

Darker moments involving his experiences of police brutality were treated light-heartedly. This was most clear in a sketch illustrating the time when, during a protest, he reported the assault of one of his friends and fellow protestor to a police officer. Strangely enough, the aggressor was dressed as a member of the riot squad. Surely an impersonator? The entertaining audacity of this comment had the crowd on side instantly. He talked almost fondly of his various arrests and this was when he was at his most engaging. At time the narrative’s flow slipped, but on the whole my attention was fixed.

Arrest that Poet’s major strength lay in the quality of its real life story rather than the method in which it was told. There was undoubtedly decent poetry on show, but it was Chivers’ personality and ability to connect with audience that gave the show its life.


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