The pub environment has long been linked with entertainment. The modern term “karaoke”, for example, masks a long history of singing in the pub, stretching back into the last century and possibly earlier (and deserving of its own post at a later date). Bar games have also long been popular, and many pubs have teams which compete in local sports competitions.
However, the rise of pub theatres is a relatively recent phenomenon. Of course, pubs have long served theatre patrons. The Shakespeare’s Head (Finsbury EC1, fig. 13) has already been mentioned (in the context of estate pubs, though it replaced an earlier pub on the same site), which serves the nearby Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and as such a bell is rung before the start of the performance and at the end of the interval. The Harlequin (Finsbury EC1), nearby, is similar, and throughout the West End such pubs can be found (although not all are quite so helpful to their patrons as the Shakespeare’s Head in this respect).