ADA AND THE ENGINE

You are brilliant but unpleasant!
— Ada Byron Lovelace to Charles Babbage

Photos by Matt Kamimura

You can thank socialite Ada Byron and scientist Charles Babbage for all the electronical devises we treasure so dearly today. Whether it’s the computer, tablet, CD player, and additional features onto cell phones, Byron and Babbage deserve credit in foreseeing what the future would look like. Their viewpoints on how the future would be like was uncanny. Perhaps farfetched, when you consider the time they were living in. However, nonetheless, they were both pretty accurate. Look at all we have in the 21st century now. Pretty cool for sure.

Augusta Ada King née Byron (later Countess of Lovelace) was the poet’s Lord Byron legitimate children. His complex reputation has passed on to his strong-willed independent daughter. Her mother Anabella Byron (Denise Nicholson is wonderful as Ada’s overprotective mother) attempts tirelessly to separate Ada from literature and into math and science. Helping her with this new goal is suitor Lord Lovelace (Gregory Crafts pulls double duty in acting and in charge of the lighting design). He’s desperately in love with Ada and is on board on separating the soulmates.

  I am such a strange mélange of good and evil that it would be difficult to describe me.
Byron: A Life by Leslie Marchand, Alfred A. Knopf, (1957)

He makes an impassioned speech on why he and Ada were meant to be together. Ada isn’t trying to hear it. Her heart belongs to Babbage and her mind to science and mathematical equations. Babbage in return fills Ada’s mind with his latest invention the “analytic engine” which will unite both the technical and art world. It’s this consummation of the mind that leads to the path to bigger and better things for the incoming future. The “bride of science” corresponds with Babbage through an almost archaic tradition— letters going back and forth. Personally, they are both at the bottom of the scope of human contact. They speak about math and science as romantic as a Shakespearean sonnet. It’s exciting to observe and hear how they speak technical talk with energy and fervor.

Jessie Sherman is simply phenomenon as the reluctant heroine. She’s my new favorite actress! As Ada, she loves math and its intensity. God bless her tenacity for wanting to learn more. She shows of her prowess for the subject with high energy. Sherman is passionate and without shame. Her quest for more knowledge is what Babbage can provide. Alex Knox, is also passionate but with more of a lid to subdue it. He goes from being excited to calming his enthusiasm down. He does the same with down-playing is love for Ada. Knox exudes a scientific mind with hints of underlying amorous side that only Ada can see and reciprocate. She briefly meets with her “immoral” father Lord Byron (Casey Hunter’s few moments on stage is dynamic and unforgettable) and they forge a precious bond. They are highly excited to see each other as adults. Both father and daughter passed away at age 36.

Writer Lauren Gunderson does an excellent job in eloquently telling the story of two people, whose desire in mathematics and life was bigger than them. Gunderson takes time to quickly establish their love for each other by feeding their hunger in math and science and then end up falling with their hearts. She didn’t use too many mathematics equation speak, but makes it understandable through the heart. Sherman and Knox make a great pair. Being attractive, witty, and brilliant makes it more precious. Knox fits the tall and handsome model, whereas, Ada, is the petite but filled with fire in her belly heroine who is both charming and delightful. Like other star-crossed lovers, such as Cyrano de Bergerac and Roxane, come to mind, they stand together on their obsession with science and each other. Truly inspiring and encouraging from perfect start to flawless finish.

Ada and the Engine plays Thursday the 28th and Friday the 29th at 8 p.m. Saturday the 30th at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Friday, April 5th at 8 p.m. and ends on Sunday, April 7th at 7 p.m. at studio/stage theater, located at 520 N. Western Avenue in Los Angeles. For ticket information, reserve online at www.theatreunleashed.org.


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