Would you like a bag?: The Bristol student-led theatre company bound for Edinburgh Fringe

The witty and relatable play dissects all the outrageous conversations we have in corner shops as young adults at university

As uni students, we spend a lot of time in our local corner shops. Whether it’s for a late-night snack or a Sunday morning hangover cure, we’ve all strolled into our respective locals wearing slippers and a dressing gown at some point.

The student-led theatre company Red Lentil Playhouse recently devised a new play entitled Would you like a bag? which encapsulates the many scenarios that can unfold in corner shops whilst you’re deciding what wine to pre-drink with.

The idea to devise a play based on student life through the setting of a corner shop was thought of by director, Rosa Wiggins. As a devised and collaborative piece, the script was created during the rehearsal process.

“We’ve written it altogether,” Rosa said. “I wanted the play to be an amalgamation of different people’s experiences” which is clearly achieved through the organic script and relatable content.

Rosa wanted each actor to help decide who their character was going to be, through exercises such as improvising random scenarios in character, unrelated to the play’s final content.

The play consists of 37 snappy scenes all set within one corner shop. It follows eight individuals who are all interlinked in some way, as is often the case at university. Topics ranging from nights out to uni work, to romantic and familial relationships are all discussed within the aisles of the shop.

The content is mostly light-hearted and comedic, with the audience full of laughter at each character’s quirks alongside the Bristol based jokes. However, the character of Will, played by James Tudor, brings light to the inherent issues of lad-culture, sexual assault and privilege which are real concerns in today’s university climate.

Leila Entwistle, who plays Imo, spoke about the usefulness of devising, rather than rehearsing from a completed script. She said: “Because you know so much about who you’re playing, what happens in this corner shop, through a devising process makes a lot more sense.”

The play was previewed last month at Bristol’s Alma Theatre for the creatives and cast to see how the show is initially received before heading to the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Rosa said “the Fringe has always been the aim” and believes its “crowd will be quite receptive to it.”

Although it is created by young people and stars university students, everyone knows a student or has been one themselves. As producer Maddy Morgan said: “It’s set in a really familiar environment as everyone has been to a corner shop and actually that community aspect to it is a lovely thing.”

As Rosa said, “Bristol is full of so many talented people” and there is an abundance of opportunity to get involved in theatre, whether that’s acting, producing, directing, or helping tech or market a show. Cast member Flo Green, who plays Grace, emphasises that, “the more stuff you go to the more comfortable you’ll feel.”

There are many societies who produce theatre but, just as Rosa has, setting up your own theatre company can be considered too. There is nothing stopping you, as she said “everyone just wants to make fun theatre together, it isn’t that serious.”

Would you like a bag? will be performed from 12th to 17th August at the Haldane Theatre, theSpace at Surgeons’ Hall, at the Edinburgh Fringe.

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