TWO years ago, one of our Box Office volunteers called to say there was a lady on the phone who’d like to speak to me. In my role, you never know what to expect; a recruiter, photocopier salesperson, tribute band promoter – but on this occasion I was pleasantly surprised.

The caller was Serena Lambert, who asked if I would like to meet the company manager of The Shakespeare Globe on Tour. Last week we welcomed the Shakespeare troupe to Taunton.

Over two days the company performed the riotous Comedy of Errors, rarely performed Pericles and romantic comedy Twelfth Night. The eight strong cast transformed into numerous characters with umpteen costume changes, that must have made the theatre back-stage as fast-paced and well-executed as on-stage. I marvelled at their dexterity, knowing and performing so many roles in repertoire style fashion.

The performers heralded from all corners of the globe and Shakespeare’s witty and profound verse flowed in Australian, Lithuanian, American and Irish tongue. This global dimension bought a powerful dynamic to the plays addressing contemporary issues; exile, loss, love, criminality, separation and reunification.

The direction was flawless with a pace, energy, humour and intensity that kept audiences gripped. The current Artistic Director of the Globe ensures plays only last two hours, sharpened scripts eradicated indulgence in text, in favour of a dynamism which makes these 400+ year old plays feel as contemporary as new writing.

One senior member of the audience commented “Shakespeare’s improved a lot since I was at school”. I couldn’t agree more, getting twitchy during prolonged RSC production as a child or on uncomfortable seats at the Regent’s Park Theatre in London, was a entirely different experience to the freshness of this company and the comfort of The Brewhouse seats.

Companies of this ilk in the regions are a rare treat. Regional theatres of our scale are under threat, without more investment work of this quality will remain the prerogative of city dwellers. We believe that access to excellent art is a birth right, irrespective of postcode.

We hope our new Council value the arts as we do and recognises the myriad of cultural, social and economic benefits it brings to our town and region, as we engage with them on the development plans for The Brewhouse.

Column by Vanessa Lefrancois, Chief Executive of The Brewhouse Theatre