CECELIA Ahern’s one woman show starring Wendi Peters returns to LIT on April 1 following a sold out show earlier this month. Wendi is outstanding in Mrs. Whippy as Emelda O’Grady, a 46 year old woman dealing with five difficult sons, a split marriage and a new job. The soothing sounds of a Mr. Whippy van arrive at just the right time for Emelda, and now it’s not just the ice cream that is her only true friend. “It’s not a joke”, laughs Wendi, “we’re coming back on April 1”.
Wendi is known to many from her role as Cilla Battersby in Coronation Street and it is a much more polished, well-spoken and far less scary voice that greets me on the telephone. “It has been a little bit but difficult to shake Cilla but anybody who has been on a show like that for four years would find it hard to shake off especially as she was such an over the top and in your face character, I’ve been trying to make sure that the roles I’ve taken on since I left are completely different”.
Wendi loves both television and theatre work but for different reasons, “there’s nothing like a live audience, however I do like the intimacy of TV work, it’s a bit more subtle”.
Cecelia Ahern mixes laughter with tears in this moving, heart-warming, and funny play about a woman finding her place in the world. Wendi came to Dublin last year to do the Vagina Monologues and read the script for Mrs. Whippy. “I thought it was a great script straight away, Cecilia is a very talented lady, amazing for her age. It’s a bit hectic, we’re moving around a lot, it’s lovely I’m getting to see different parts of Ireland. Whenever I have been here before it was only Dublin”.
The actress spent hours learning lines for the one-woman show, “ It’s me on my own, I tried to get into the character. Her husband has run off with a 23 year old Russian lap dancer and he’s left her with five sons, and her Mother’s just died so she’s finding life a bit of a struggle but the play is also about her reasons for finding herself and getting her life back together again”. Wendi adds fortunately that she wasn’t really able to compare herself to her character. “Thankfully my husband hasn’t ran off with anybody let alone a 23 year old, well not as far as I know anyway having been away for three weeks! I have a very happy life so the role was something I had to think about and put myself into that situation”.
Wendi says that she felt a little bit nervous at the beginning (as Mrs. Whippy) but has settled into the role now. “The thing is with their just being me on stage it’s completely down to me. If things do go slightly wrong, I can totally cover it without the audience knowing because I have nobody else to rely on. It is quite nerve wrecking going out there every night on your own but it’s a challenge and that’s what I like about it. It’s one thing doing a play but it’s another standing up there on your own for two hours. Mentally I knew it was going to be hard as I had two and half hours worth of lines to learn but physically as well, I’m absolutely shattered when I come off the stage”.
Her character Cilla in Coronation Street is currently in South Africa so the door is wide open for her to return to the Street. “ I have to be asked and I have to want to, at the moment I’m having a really nice time doing lots of other things and being at home a bit more. As soon as I get back to the UK, I’m doing a couple of weeks of The Vagina Monologues and then I’m doing a few weeks on Grumpy Old Women and then Celebrity Masterchefs will be aired in June, so I’m really busy”. Tickets for Mrs Whippy are available from LIT for this April 1 show.