One of the shining lights of Colchester’s entertainment scene is the Mercury Theatre on Balkerne Gate. Its circa-500-seat main auditorium is an exceptional theatre space for touring companies and in-house productions. Plus it boasts a prime location just a couple of minutes’ walk away from the High Street, and less than half a mile from our Colchester Town Centre (Castle) hotel.
The Mercury Theatre Colchester first opened its doors in 1972 and ever since has built up a reputation for being one of the best theatres in the country. It’s the most active producing theatre in the east of England and plays a pivotal role in pushing the creative arts in this part of the UK with more than 130,000 people coming to see its programme of productions each year.
You can choose to visit either the Main Theatre, which seats nearly 500, or the Studio Theatre that hosts smaller-scale productions and seats fewer than 100 people. By and large, it’s the Main Studio where you’ll most likely want to see a show. It’s a great auditorium, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house, even when elaborate sets take up the entirety of the stage. Speaking of sets, despite being a community theatre you’ll find the production value is top class; you have to remind yourself you’re not sitting in the West End.
It used to be that The Mercury was best known for its productions of the classics. However, take a look at what’s on during your stay at one of our Colchester hotels and you’ll find a diverse programme of shows ranging from classic plays and contemporary drama to comedy acts and live music. As you would expect from a venue with state-of-the-art stage facilities like the Mercury Theatre, touring companies travel from around the country to perform here, including The Royal National Theatre.
However, it’s The Mercury’s in-house productions that have really helped the theatre make a name for itself. Its originals, under the title ‘Made in Colchester’ are consistently greeted with critical acclaim both regionally and nationally. The Mercury’s list of past productions features the works of famous names like John Cleese and Martin Clunes as well as a wide range of shows, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Animal Farm, Much Ado About Nothing, Dial M for Murder, Quadrophenia, and Alan Sillitoe’s Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.