Serenade to lady geeks and nerds

Keira Daley: LadyNerd
Pleasure Garden, Northbridge
4.5 stars
Review: Melanie Coram

"The Analytical Engine, on the contrary, is not merely adapted for tabulating the results of one particular function and of no other, but for developing and tabulating any function whatever. In fact the engine may be described as being the material expression of any indefinite function of any degree of generality and complexity..."

Ahh, the sweet serenade of LadyNerd hero Ada Lovelace.

The Countess of Lovelace might not have been mad, bad and dangerous to know like her father, Lord Byron, but she was the world’s first geek.

To performer Keira Daley, Ada and women like her are an inspiration to women today who love sci-fi, chess and grammatical pedantry.

It may once have been true that guys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses, however nerds are having a moment. Geek chic is everywhere (but for heaven’s sake, don’t confuse them with hipsters.)

Daley’s show, also featuring pianist Mark Chamberlain, is a brassy cabaret ode to the women who bucked convention and made a difference.

Using song and stand-up, Daley looks to many other brainy goddesses – including Florence Nightingale, Amelia Earhart, Marie Curie – to show that the lineage of the femme nerd is long and colourful.

Keira’s songs are delivered with all the gumption and sass of another heroine, Hedy Lamarr. She was some smart broad but, as Daley tells it, she spent life acting dumb to appease some guy or another.

In between capsule biographies, Keira shares her own history, from Sega Megadrive to apostrophe rage.

This was in my top two favourite shows for Fringe 2014, and it’s a shame there are only three performances.

If you’re a ladynerd yourself, Daley will show you how to stand arm-in-arm with your sister boffins, geeks and nerds. And if you have a dark past of sneering at women who favour ideas over fashion, this show might well be your salvation.

LadyNerd is being performed in the Deluxe tent in the Pleasure Garden until Sunday, February 23.