AN internationally acclaimed theatre company is coming to two iconic Somerset venues.

The British Touring Shakespeare will be at Fyne Court near Bridgwater and The Bishop’s Palace in Wells with their hilarious new production of the Shakespeare comedy The Merry Wives Of Windsor and a brand new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic gothic horror tale Dracula.

The Merry Wives Of Windsor is a hilarious romp that sees the women of Windsor gain the upper hand in a bawdy battle of the sexes with the drunken knight Sir John Falstaff.

This classic farce is guaranteed to make for an unforgettable afternoon of laughter enjoying outdoor theatre at its very best.

Artistic Director Andrew Hobbs, originally from the West Country, explains this year’s choice of Shakespeare play: “There are certain Shakespeare comedies which are done every year as outdoor productions, and while we love doing those too it is also very important to us to give our audiences the opportunity to see some of the hidden gems in the canon that they might not have seen before.

"Merry Wives is all about women taking back control, which is a theme that definitely resonates in today’s world. It’s also just such a fun play from start to finish which is what we all need right now.”

Somerset County Gazette: SP Howarth as Dracula with Emma Riches and Jenny Trapp in British Touring Shakespeare's Dracula, photo by T ThornhillSP Howarth as Dracula with Emma Riches and Jenny Trapp in British Touring Shakespeare's Dracula, photo by T Thornhill

Following on from the success of last year’s sold-out adaptation of The Hound Of The Baskervilles, Hobbs has also once again teamed up with his father the award-winning historian and writer David Hobbs MBE to create a spine-chilling new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

With fans around the world celebrating the 125th anniversary of the original publication of that great horror novel, there has never been a better time to bring this seminal vampire tale to the stage.

David Hobbs MBE said: “Bram Stoker's novel is not only a thrilling story, but also a classic example of English literature and it was a pleasure to help draw out the essential elements into a format that can be put before an audience. hope that everyone will enjoy watching the story unfold as much as I enjoyed helping to adapt it.”

James McWilliam, Visitor Operations and Experience Manager, National Trust Somerset Coast & Countryside said: “We’re thrilled to have these productions at Fyne Court, it’s a perfect location on a summer evening to enjoy this wonderful performance of a great story. Refreshments will be available and visitors can sit where they choose on the picturesque Fyne Court lawn to enjoy the shows.”

In 2020, British Touring Shakespeare were the first theatre company to stage live performances during the recovery from the pandemic at socially distanced outdoor venues around the UK with their outstanding tour of The Two Gentlemen Of Verona.

In 2021 they continued to spearhead the return of live entertainment for communities around the country with their acclaimed tour of Twelfth Night and The Hound Of The Baskervilles.

This year British Touring Shakespeare once again ensures that the magic of open-air theatre is a British tradition that people can continue to enjoy.

Tickets for the performance of Dracula at Fyne Court on Sunday, July 3 can be found here.

Tickets for the performance of Dracula at the Bishop's Palace on Sunday, July 31 can be found here.

Tickets for the performance of Merry Wives of Windsor at Fyne Court on Saturday, August 13 can be found here.