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Pub Of The Month - November 2021 with rpadam on the Pub Forum

The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon), Colchester

4 St John Street

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Pub Type

J D Wetherspoon

Reviews (Current Rating Average: of 10) Add Review see review guidelines

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Steve C left this review about The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon)

The Playhouse is a large Wetherspoons in and old, erm, playhouse theatre. The big island bar in the centre of the pub is stocked with standard and premium keg products and I counted four banks of six hand pumps. Many of the ales were doubled or even trebled up, but there was still a good selection. There is sunken seating down the sides of the pub and the main open plan seating area is found at the rear in the old stalls. My work colleagues visiting from overseas were fascinated by the cardboard cut-outs of famous people up in the circle. We ate here and, as usual for a Spoons, the food was excellent value. My only gripe was the service which was slow and twice I had to wait for staff members to stop gossiping before I was served. If they had so much time on their hands you would have thought they would at least attempt to clear some of the tables.

On 6th March 2020 - rating: 6
[User has posted 3599 recommendations about 3579 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Just a quick pint, then I'm off left this review about The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon)

Impressive former theatre / cinema / bingo hall, restored to something like its original glory by 'spoons in 1994. Various different seating / dining areas in the previous foyer, offices, stalls and up on the stage, with the central island bar in between. Some amusement can also be found when looking at the cardboard figures up on the former circle. Not a bad (if fully duplicated) selection of real ales from the four banks of six handpumps, from which the Loddon Hocus Pocus old ale (£1.99) went well with my fish and chips.

On 2nd January 2020 - rating: 7
[User has posted 6620 recommendations about 6620 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Aqualung . left this review about The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon)

As noted below this is a theatre conversion and is quite a grand building. Having visited the Tunbridge Wells Opera House only a couple of months before I feel qualified to make the comparison. This is a bigger building and has a better layout than the Opera House with an Island Bar underneath the circle soon after you enter from St John Street. Behind that is a large open seating area in what were the stalls and some steps leading up to the stage. This buiding was completed in 1929 so has much less of a Victorian influence than the Opera House which was completed in 1902. As a building I preferred the Opera House where the Victorian decor was completely over the top.
As for the clientele it was fairly typical mixed JDW, the only annoyance being a couple of mothers with screaming kids. If my mother had been like them I would certainly have been screaming.
As noted there are four sets of six hand pumps on the four ends of the Island bar. There was not as much doubling up as I expected and the choice was the JDW Trio Of Doom, Hellhound Black Shuck, Saffron EPA & Flying Serpent, Nethergate Old Growler & Red Poll, Titanic Stout, Rooster's Yankee, Brentwood Lumberjack
and Oakleaf Pompey Royal which had gone off. There were two available soon. By this point I had decided the time was too close to my train departure to visit any more haunts so I stopped for three. I had the Hellhound Black Shuck (£2.29), Saffron Flying Serpent (£2.45) and Brentwood Lumberjack (£2.29). The Flying Serpent was superb, the Lumberjack in more than reasonable nick but I wasn't sure about the Black Shuck.
All in all this seemed a good Spoons with lots of choice.

On 8th February 2016 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2143 recommendations about 2143 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

E TA left this review about The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon)

A pleasant surprise, this JDW is a very good conversion of an old theatre into a welcoming, airy pub. The staff were amog the mosst professional and welcoming I've encountered from this chain, so well done Tim. Ten ales and ciders on draft, I had both Brains's Whiteout (at the suggestion of a particularly knowledgeable barman) and Soltaire Juniper Rye. Both were in excellent condition, although the Brains's was possibly a bit too cool. Very much worth a visit for a few beers in civilised surroundings and a definite for a town crawl.

On 23rd June 2014 - rating: 7
[User has posted 2737 recommendations about 2705 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

Roger Button left this review about The Playhouse (JD Wetherspoon)

The Playhouse opened as a theatre in 1929 but underwent a major refit just 2 years later when the original 3 tier interior was converted to a 2 tier set up primarily for cinema use. The cinema ceased to be in 1981 and after a stint as a Bingo Hall the building was closed down for several years until Wetherspoons came along in 1994 and restored the building to what you see now.

Only the stalls and stage area are set aside for public use with the balcony still retaining its cinema seating. Some of the seats and the 2 boxes are occupied by dummy theatre goers and the stage has a theatre backdrop of a panelled wall and bookcases. Above the stage are 2 big screens with Sky Sports News at the time of my visit. The ceiling contains an ornate dome and the walls are littered with interesting old posters and programmes with details of many household names that appeared there. The island bar is at the rear of the stalls with 24 hand pumps although disappointingly most are either doubled up with the same ales or host “available soon” clips. That said there is still an above average number of guest beers available with a definite emphasis on local breweries (Nethergate was well represented).

Comparisons to the Opera House in Tunbridge wells are obvious and credit must go to Wetherspoons for rescuing what would have been a neglected but historic local landmark. Naturally it gets busy at peak times and I dare say it attracts a certain element of ‘Spoons bottom end customer range but it is nevertheless worthy of a visit and will be among the more interesting ‘Spoons you will have encountered.

On 19th May 2010 - rating: 7
[User has posted 1238 recommendations about 1232 pubs]

Please Note: This review is over a year old.

john mcgraw left this review about The Playhouse

Large Wetherspoon's converted from a Theatre.The stage and circle are still intact.Not much in the way of guest beers today (05/03/07)A bit dark so dont wear your sun glasses when you go in.

On 6th March 2007 - rating: 6
[User has posted 2044 recommendations about 2025 pubs]