Ada and Elsie were a top-rating comedy duo during radio's golden years; the 1940s and '50s. The old fashioned girls with a saucy side were created by writer Dorothy Foster who played Ada and actress Rita Pauncefort who played her sister Elsie. Both siblings were spinsters who had been left on the shelf. Yet despite being well beyond their sell-by-dates they both harboured hopes of finding Mr Right or even Mr Right-now. Nowadays, the Capri opens the curtain on Ada & Elsie: Wacko-the-Diddle-oh – a recreation of a typical wireless gambol, complete with sound effects, audience participation and much innuendo.
To be honest, the material written by Maureen Sherlock (Elsie) is rather dated and a tad jaded. However, members of the audience laugh freely at ribald asides and silliness such as when Carole Yelland (Ada) marvellously delivers the punch line that they go together as well as chicken and pox. The joke on paper seems a little stale but in the execution there is good reason for the mirth in the auditorium.
Compère Malcolm Hansford, certainly provides enough visual gags to keep the show jaunty and expeditious, while Sherlock's script – alas not an adaption of one of Dorothy Foster's better offerings – is packed with rapid fire wit which although at times hackneyed does carry a certain punch.
Throughout the performance there are a lot of smiles, many titters and a few laugh at loud moments. No matter what ones sense of humour it is difficult not to be greatly impressed by the triad of fine performers who bring strong devotion and frisky liveliness to proceedings as they tell the tale of Ada and Elsie's rise and fall.
Sherlock brings charm and wit to Ada and a touch of gravitas to Dorothy Foster, while Yelland delivers most of the best lines as both Elsie and Rita Pauncefort (including, at one point, a slapstick involving shaving cream and an unwitting male). Last but not least, Hansford, exuberantly fills in for all the male characters with zeal and tireless spirit, and he's specifically good as Jack Davey – the king of radio.
The energy levels throughout Ada & Elsie: Wacko-the-Diddle-oh! are relentless and anyone of a certain age will find the show appealing. If it's old-fashioned whimsy you seek in a fringe show, then this is the show for you.
2014 Adelaide Fringe Festival
Ada & Elsie: Wacko-the-Diddle-oh!
by Maureen Sherlock
Directed by Rob George
Venue: Capri Theatre | 141 Goodwood Road, Goodwood
Dates: 18 – 22 February 2014
Tickets: $20 – $29
Bookings: Fringetix and at the venue