Aug 14 2015 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩   Educational and enchanting

Bedlam Theatre (venue 49): Thurs 6 – Sun 30 Aug 2015

The student-run Edinburgh University Theatre Company deliver an intriguing insight into the life of Ada Lovelace, but it might just be a little too clever for its own good.

Ada, conceived and directed by Melanie Phillips, is a show centred on the nineteenth century mathematician and world’s first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace.

The show, seeking to highlight one of the forgotten women of the sciences, is a celebratory tribute to Ada’s life and works on the 200th anniversary of her birth. But it is also a lot more than just that; this production seeks to bring Ada to life on stage, using only her own words and embracing all aspects of her life.

Ada Cast. Photo: Daniel Alexander Harris

Ada cast. Photo: Daniel Alexander Harris

Ada was an English mathematician and writer, known for her work on Charles Babbage’s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engine. She was also the only legitimate child of the poet Lord Byron. Her mother discouraged Ada’s artistic side and encouraged her mathematical side, but both became part of her work in her poetical science approach.

The production on stage at the Bedlam Theatre certainly embodies this duality by exploring the link between technology and creativity. With part narration, acting, scientific explanation, physical theatre and a range of multimedia aids, this clearly stands out. One of the most powerful devices being giant mechanical projections and sounds that demonstrate the inner workings of her mind and Babbage’s technological creations.

intriguing and inventive

However, at times there is so much going on and so much intensely packed into one show that it becomes confusing. Some parts of the production seemingly have no explanation and are left in the abstract.

The cast of seven all intertwine playing multiple roles and characters. Ada’s mantle passes between all four female members of the cast at different times. The cast member only recognisable as Ada by the addition of a red ribbon around her wrist.

While this is both intriguing and inventive, serving to highlight different parts of Ada’s life, the same happens within the male characters. It’s often confusing to determine the sequence of events and who they involve.

This confusion may of course be intentional, seeking to represent the mechanics of computer programming and how one part fits into the program. But that might just be too clever for most out for an afternoon at the fringe.

Overall an inventive and interesting piece of theatre where you can learn about a remarkable woman, computer programming and mathematical equations, yet also appreciate the beauty it contains.

Running time: 1 hour 
Bedlam Theatre (venue 49) 11b Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ
Thursday 6 – Sunday 30 August 2015
Daily, not Wednesday, 3pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Company website:

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