Lady Nerd – Keira Daley and female nerds through time. (Sydney Fringe Festival Cabaret Review)
The enormously talented Keira Daley and her super-support dude Mark Chamberlain have a new show at the Sydney Fringe this week called Keira Daley v’s the 90’s which promises to be as witty as her Lady Nerd show. I’m reviewing it later this week, but by way of warm up for this show, in a one off, last chance to see ever, Keira Daley and Mark Chamberlain revived the Lady Nerd show at the Sound Lounge at the Seymour Center on Saturday night and I was lucky enough to go along.
I have no dress except the one I wear every day. If you are going to be kind enough to give me one, please let it be practical and dark so that I can put it on afterwards to go to the laboratory. (Marie Curie)
A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales. (Marie Curie)
Unfortunately, for those of you in Sydney who missed Lady Nerd, you won’t have the chance to see it now. After all the hype, including a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (the “Broadway” of Fringe Festivals) Daley has finally said goodbye to our shores and is off to Melbourne to bless audiences there with this fantastic hour-long show.
Daley starts the show with a kind of lament for the term “Nerd” and all that it has become – Can nerds really be mistaken for Geeks and (shock horror) hipsters? Part of this problem, she decides, is the nerds bad reputation to begin with and part of the problem lies in the misrepresentation of Nerds now that they have some faux celebrity status. “Nerd” needs to be reclaimed by the true nerds, the hidden nerds, the female nerds. It’s on this premise that Daley rockets the audience through a wild ride of female genius, both the well-known and the unknown throughout time in an effort to transform the image of the “Lady Nerd.” Starting with a witty bastardisation of “That’s Why the Lady is a Nerd (tramp)” she goes into lengthy witty reverie about some of the women such as Marie Curie, Betty Nesbit, Ada Lovelace and Hedy Lamarr, singing tunes to transform their image, bring their scientific and business accomplishments to light. In cheeky, bright-eyed joy, she pokes fun at life and accomplishment, giving these women both their dues, and showing a cheerful contempt for the worlds ignorance of serious female accomplishment. Daley shows no anger, no resentment, and no deeply harbored angst about histories treatment of intelligent women, but rather rockets along a completely different continuum. One where the female does, achieves and invents despite lack of recognition.
But in the end, it is not the subject matter that will have you smiling for the rest of the evening, it is Daley herself. She is warm, funny, eager and yet relaxed, witty and accommodating. She runs a collaborative show, feeding off the audience, allowing that all important two-way communication every cabaret show needs. There are no pauses – it’s a short show – but Daley is so enticing your eyes don’t leave her for a minute. If Daley’s intention is to redefine the Lady Nerd, then she also redefines “feel good” by engaging the intelligence of her audience as well as offering a small moment of “happy” in a world that is rarely so.
Any girl can be glamorous. All you have to do is stand still and look stupid. (Hedy Lamarr)
Perhaps my problem in marriage-and it is the problem of many women-was to want both intimacy and independence. It is a difficult line to walk, yet both needs are important to a marriage. (Hedy Lamarr)
Lady Nerd is Keira Daley, but it is also Mark Chamberlain, an accomplished musician who is a lively support along side, never behind, Daley. He is young, cute and easy on the eye, making it all part of the fun that Daley has a sexy male side-kick. He has impeccable timing and under the warm inclusive direction of Jay James-Moody, the two bounce off each other, displaying their musical relationship in an auditory dance that is as entertaining as it is endearing. Lady Nerd is a well written, well performed moment in time when the rest of the world falls away and comes second to happiness and pleasure. One can only assume Keira Daley V’s The 90’s will be just as fine a production.