Cabaret Festival

Ladynerd: A Cabaret – 2012 Adelaide Cabaret Festival

Presented by Keira Daley and the Adelaide Cabaret Festival
Reviewed Thursday 14th June 2012

As the lights go up we see the set, a massive Tetris game in progress, with overtones of Rubik’s Cube. That clearly reinforces what the show is going to be about, and numerous other computer games are definitely going to be mentioned, along with Venn diagrams, pie charts, bar charts and the periodic table. Keira Daley, accompanied by her musical director, Mark Chamberlain, on piano and keyboard, first explained what a nerd is and what it means to be one, from a female point of view.

Her show introduced the audience to a number of famous, and lesser known Ladynerds, telling us of their achievements and their personal lives. These segments were punctuated by expositions of her own thoughts and views on the subject, delivered with her tongue firmly in cheek. It all added up to a superb piece of cabaret with humour, personal references and disclosures, informative episodes and plenty of marvellously sung songs. Daley has carried out a lot of research and crafted an excellent script which she presents in a somewhat interactive to and fro exchange with the audience, who were with her all the way.

From the moment that Daley stated that she felt physically ill whenever somebody misused an apostrophe, I new I had found a kindred spirit. I, too, cannot stand incorrect punctuation, nor poor spelling or bad grammar. It took only moments to notice that, time and again, as she progressed through her performance, there were many knowing nods of agreement occurring throughout the audience. This could easily have turned into a nerds’ convention.

Madame Curie, who spent her life working with her husband in a study of radioactivity, a name which she coined, was an expected inclusion. The mother of former Monkee, Mike Nesmith, was totally unexpected, but Bette Nesmith Graham, an inaccurate typist, invented Liquid Paper. Anybody with a computing background would have found no surprise at the inclusion of Ada Lovelace, who developed an algorithm for Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a mechanical computer, allowing it to calculate Bernoulli numbers. Many decades later, the first high level computer language was named after her; ADA.

Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, was not just a pretty face. She co-invented the concept of frequency hopping to prevent intervention of messages sent by radio, but the idea was never taken up during WWII. It is now the basis of the operation of mobile telephones. There were also some much more obscure names, such as the inventor of windscreen wipers, Mary Anderson, or Margaret Knight, who invented a machine for making paper bags.

These achievements are only part of the stories, and how they came about, and the personal situations of these women, and others, adds much to their richness. Daley thoroughly knows her subjects, but she can also go far beyond mere classroom facts to create a fascinating, and often extremely funny series of narratives. This was a well spent hour or so in all respects. Hopefully, we will see her back again in future years.

Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.

Cabaret Festival web site – Ladynerd

Venue: Artspace, Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide
Season: Ended
Duration: 1hr 10mins

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