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Playhouse, Colchester

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user reviews of the Playhouse, Colchester

please note - reviews on this site are purely the opinion of site visitors, so don't take them too seriously.

Wow... Plain on the outside, but like stepping into the past inside... Tables on the stage and cardboard cut-out characters in the stalls. It's great how Mr J.D. Saves these old buildings... Great beer as always; I had Elgoods Hickathrift 4.3%, Hop Monster Co. Snake Oil Stout Dark 5% and a Wards strong xmas ale. I'm just down for a week, but as there are some footie posts on here - Leicester City - top of the premier league - Keep the faith!
Barrow_Beer_Hunter - 30 Dec 2015 16:16
An interesting interior, the sort of building conversion that Wetherspoons do well. A good selection of well kept, well priced ales - no complaints!
Islander - 2 Feb 2015 19:35
The relatively plain exterior of this former theatre belies the amazing interior which comprises of tables on the stage and stalls area with the circle given over to a recreation of the theatre's audience in its late Victorian heyday. There are plenty of nooks and crannies as well as a fair few quiet snugs which means you can have a meal in peace even when the place is busier. Good value, wholesome food as with most Wetherspoons - over 10 real ales on and in reasonable condition. As with many Wetherspoons although the interior is spectacular it is also a little worn, and as always some of the clientele leave a little to be desired, however the place is big enough to find a seat to avoid any undesirables. Close to the town centre and a good stop off if you want good value food and beer.
manx_888 - 19 Jan 2015 14:01
Monkdawallydahonk ... I popped in here before ColU vs Gillingham and we won!! Change your routine!! Not a bad pub, but as you say there are better in town.
tortoise68 - 15 Jan 2014 13:12
Visited on 20 April prior to another dismal home showing by the mighty U's. Wouldn't normally countenance a visit here as there are so many good pubs in Colchester but having found locked doors at our first two pubs we all had a reasonably good pint of Titanic brown ale for £2.15 a pint, and you can't argue with that. Beer was slightly too cold but in good nick. Usual sort of Wetherspoon customers. 6.5/10
Monkdawallydahonk - 24 Apr 2013 09:26
Fantastic building, just a shame about everything else. This is the place all the youngsters go to get drunk on cheap drinks before going on to the more expensive clubs in the evenings. But you do have your day crowd, 7 old men 6 of which have pissed themselves and the dole crowd in there tracksuit bottoms and Nike trainers, oh and not forgetting the overweight women with their children in prams. The food is....... well you get what you pay for, and this place is CHEAP. I'd say its worth going in for a look at the building but stick to the shorts as god knows when they cleaned their lines.
copperken - 15 Dec 2012 12:09
Certainly a destination pub, all tourists visiting Colchester should go there. Ale OK as well.
Wilson_MacDonald - 28 Aug 2012 21:24
This pub has to be seen to be believed. It's grand enough when you walk in but looking from the back to the front you're presented with the balcony sprinkled with mannequins and a large stage full of seating.
Had a New years meal in here for four and enough beer and spirits to keep us going for a few days. Had 2 roasts, a lasagne and a salmon - great stuff. The beer was superb and the staff were up for a friendly chat. I suspect we saw it in it's best light on a quieter day.
We'll certainly return to this one. Most impressed.
ButchEgg - 2 Jan 2012 13:37
I have to say the Playhouse is a great pub. Friendly staff, great atmosphere and very good value.
thedunge - 4 Nov 2011 16:21
I got food poisioning from this pub!! Cheap meals and beer ready to go off - my gut is still making noises and pains from the poor Chicken Jalfrezi curry night special. YUCK - spend a bit more and go somewhere else for meal with drinks
huelsberg - 23 Sep 2011 22:37
Visited here for the first time in years after swearing to never go back in to a Spoons and was very impressed this time. Had a pint of Old Growler which was superb and my wife had a Nethergate Ruby Mild which she was very impressed with too. The service was actually OK for a change and the two pints came in at £4.65. Made me review my attitude to this pub and I will probably return. The mannequin's dotted around the seating area are a little bit freaky though!
beerbarber - 31 May 2011 07:37
Visited on Monday 28 December. Apart from the standard Spoons beers they had Bath Dark Hare, and a Cotleigh and a couple of Nethergates. One of the more interesting Spoons pubs and as we had arrived at 11.30 it opened before the GBG pubs.
GuideDogSaint - 1 Jan 2010 23:22
Colchesterís only Wetherspoons pub hasn't changed much since its opening in 1994. The site was originally built as the Playhouse Theatre and later changing to the ABC Cinema. Wetherspoons saved the site after it had remained empty for many years. Wetherspoons have certainly themed the pub on the original theatre aspect. The upper balcony theatre seating areas you can see but cannot get there. There is a royal box complete with look-alike dummies. The carpet continues the theme with a comedy and tragedy mask pattern on it. At the entrance/exit there is an old style TV camera. Towards the back of the pub there is a library type backdrop in front of the seating. There is plenty of seating in the pub mainly towards the rear of the pub. There is even a lower level seating area facing out to Chapel Street North. There is a large screen TV showing silent Sky Sports News with the football results on a Saturday afternoon.

Twenty four hand pumps, twelve to the front and twelve to the rear. I think the beers were pretty much the same on the front to the rear. Most hand pumps were in use with a mix of the usual, some of the old festival beers and a few new ones. Good to see Wetherspoons supporting the mild in May promotion with B&T's Black Dragon Mild. The beer seemed to have gone back to £1.79 today even though I was charged £1.29 for a former festival beer during the week. During the day it is easy to get served but a much different story in the evening.
Love_good_ale - 10 May 2009 01:54
Come here to play or just some real ale.
PubMessenger - 30 Mar 2009 10:19
Another overhaul is needed, a lot more staff are needed BUT still the cheapest drinks in town & the best starting point, also good to come back to after ten when most have moved on and there's a chance of better service. Food still good though but they need to be a lot clearer on whether children are allowed during the day and how long for, if this one-drink policy is in place on children when you have a meal then there needs to be a lot more signage/something on the menu to avoid embarrassment.
jojo85 - 4 Feb 2009 09:57
Yet another weatherspoons, ive been here a few times, i thinks its ok when i get a seat. the queues are stupidly long, they never have enough staff. granted they are cheap but out of all the recent times i have gone out i have never been. may do sometime in the future. i just think i enjoy my time at other places and all the people i bump into now are the same.
The_italian - 4 Dec 2008 12:26
They need more staff 20 mins waiting is just not on.
hogshead - 1 Sep 2008 21:26
cheap, BUT you can wait 20-30 mins to get served by lazy useless bar staff. all the good ones leave......if you think im exagerating try it......
iknowbest - 30 Jun 2008 09:48
brill pub, one of the cheapest places in town for a drink, its a good meeting up place, gets busy but still a top pub
nutty_tart - 8 Feb 2008 22:46
I have been coming to The Playhouse for 5years and its the BEST!!!Cheap drinks, friendly bar staff, fairly good atmosphere but that`s because no music. I recomended this pub to all my mates and they love it too.
Babe_Magnet - 24 Jan 2008 13:22
Quite an eerie pub, not music and large open spaces, but I love this place! The food is, well, alright, but drinks are cheap, lots of seating (booths, tables, stools), huge bar (though when busy, still takes ages to get served). It is a student hot spot where you are likely to run into everyone you know. Not the greatest range of beers and ales, but enough to please most.
fran - 7 Dec 2007 10:34
Popped in the other Sunday. Lots of staff sickness. 20 minutes to get served. Try Fox & Fiddler.
tortoise68 - 8 Nov 2007 11:00
Old theatre turned pub.

No music, cheap microwave food, lots of students. However, one of the better bets for a drink in Colchester.
anonymous - 28 Oct 2007 01:18
Great lookin spoons well worth a visit if in the area, great beer quality,friendly service and wot a building! 9/10
fat_beer_badger - 16 Jul 2007 14:48
As an American looking for a traditional English pub, I was very dissapointed. It felt like I was in some kind of Las Vegas theme pub. The atmosphere was odd because people were whispering and keeping very quiet and to themselves. It creeped me out and I could not wait to get out of there. Staff was all business, no personality. The only redeming quality was the fine selection of cask beers.
shred - 6 Feb 2007 11:29
My favourite pub in Colchester. The service is slightly slow, but the bar tenders are friendly, with a good selection of cider, and some good house spirits. Not to mention the fun of the hand dryers after drinking a few too many
sweet_exile - 6 Oct 2006 06:06
Occasionally you stumble on a decent ale, but you'll be lucky if it is served well. The food is generally poor and sometimes undercooked - my wife had to send her fish back to the kitchen as it was raw on the inside. It may be cheap, but surely it is worth paying a bit more for a decent pint in decent surrondings.
nobbynobnob - 12 Jun 2006 17:15
Huge, cheap and crowded. Expect to see all sorts in here, and seeing as their keg reliability isn't great, expect to drink all sorts too. I once had to ask for four different ales because they had run out of the previous three. The beer is cheap but the service is slow - so order lots at a time. And don't expect to find anywhere to sit (or stand).

Food is really exceptionally cheap in the day.
slew - 26 May 2006 18:10

Food is good, I'm sure its the cheapest booze in town, is ok to find a seat if you dont smoke, pretty good atmosphere, bouncers are very on the ball, toilets a bit manky but not too bad, only complaint would be that there never seems to be enough bar staff on a friday night. Fantastic location to start your friday night pub crawl, and being 'a lady' :-), excellent for free drink from drunk squaddies!!
jojo85 - 2 May 2006 14:17
Cheap ales (e.g. Theakston's Best Bitter - £1.45). That's the major up-side to this pub.


Slow service, and often very few available seats. Sticky bar. Dirty Glasses.

I can't talk about the food, but my friends seem to think it's passable if you've already been drinking.


Alright for a pint or two in the early evening when it's not too busy, but I wouldn't want to spend a night out there.
sleb - 11 Apr 2006 15:33
Shabby, cheap Wetherspoons. Ale not bad and cheap. Food is difficult to get hold of, as it is a speciality of the house that they have usually ran out of anything that you try to order. Needs redecorating.
ahscum - 30 May 2005 13:53
brummybeerboy - 17 Mar 2005 00:47
Ahh the Playhouse. As much a part of Colchester as the Castle in my eyes! OK, its hardly the Ritz but then anybody who has ever stepped foot in a Weatherspoons before knows what they are going to get.

A great place to start off the evening (or the afternoon!), PH has a higher than average proporation of chavs, slappers and pissed up old men, decor that would embaress a caveman and food that tastes like carpet...BUT ITS CHEAP!

Would rather drink here than get ripped off in Edwards anyday.
anonymous - 4 Jan 2005 16:23
Cheap weatherspoon tack. Rubbish food and rubbish service. Friday and saturday night it's full of chavs and you will not be able to get a drink. During the week tho it's ok for something to do.
AC - 18 Oct 2004 17:38
Get in early and out early to avoid the "loud mouthed can't carry the drink brigade" who unfortunately frequent this pub along with the resident barflys. When will they get rid of the former and the latter? Typical Wetherspoon's establishment good quality beer at cheap prices. Breakfasts are good value but watch out for the missing sausage on the traditional breakfast.
smurfy33 - 8 Oct 2004 15:36
Classic spoons.I once met a girl in here who was so tight she had brought her own vodka mix in an old ribeana bottle! thats this place down to a tee, Cheap.
Mark - 3 Sep 2004 10:11
Understaffed, full of Chav, sticky tables... but cheap drinks! and at least you can hold a conversation if thats your thing.Start here, but don't stay to long
Bambi McFly - 12 Aug 2004 12:57
This is a great meeting place with free drinks, people moan about no music but this is the place just to start and chat then u can move on to places with the music! fair enough it does have alot of students but they r all harmless
Barry - 22 Jul 2004 12:54
A great pub, it does have a lot of under age drinkers but they dont cause any bother, we were all under age once too! A great atmosphere as its cool not to have load music all night long. And REALLY cheap drinks!!!!
rosey - 10 Mar 2004 20:31
Not 'special' but it's OK. Students?? Of course -- there's a uni here where my son is 'studying'!
I'm just visiting (from Uxbridge, with loads of pubs) and have no complaints about the Playhouse.
However, I'm a 'Wetherspoon regular' .....
Pissy_Pete - 26 Feb 2004 00:10
Awful! Full of 16-17 year olds, tables really dirty, no music, no atmosphere, too bright - really foul! However, bar staff polite!
anonymous - 17 Feb 2004 13:09
its a relly cool place and the food is gd gr8 place
anonymos - 15 Jan 2004 20:05
This place is full of the most badly dressed people I have ever seen?? Do they not sell full length mirrors in colchester??
Lots of pervy old men aswell.
Carrie - 16 Oct 2003 17:08
bit on the quiet side, no life and full of students but its cheap and so you can get lagered up before you go elsewhere!
michael carpenter - 26 Jul 2003 17:12
No music and no life, but has good food and cheap drinks. In daytime it is sometimes hard to get a seat due to the lonely old men sitting alone at a table for four mulling over a 3 hour old pint of bitter, especially on pension day.
anonymous - 23 Jun 2003 22:55
I don't really like this place. It's cheap for drinks but there is no music. Annoying ugly men!!!
Carly Lucas - 19 Jun 2003 17:33
this pub is the heart and soul of colchester sixth form students and returning uni students. although no music, theres always an atmosphere for a fight. good cheap drinks, and always a place to stand!
jon rudling esq. - [email protected] - 12 May 2003 01:16
Good beer, kept well. No arguments from the staff when you suggest the beer is off or ask for a top-up.
Unfortunately, the pricing policy encourages the student population to get lagged and roudy most weekends.
Jen - 6 Apr 2003 10:27

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