It’s early evening; skies are fading to dark. Our picnic party is squatting on a grassy mound, enjoying the drinks and sarnies before the main event begins in the arena below us. Darker still it becomes and the generator springs into life. The floodlights above us switch on and bathe the amphitheater in a harsh light: We are in Caerleon.
Tonight the 2nd Legion Augustus are re-enacting the gladiator games that were once such gory entertainment for the local townsfolk and we are here to share what a spectator 2000 years ago might have experienced. In the distance, flickering lights from Roman torch bearers lead the column towards us. The legionnaire standard bearer, in animal cape, holds up high the Eagle and then, disaster, the generator cuts out! Total blackness. Panic! But our sense of sight and sound is heightened in this back to black. The tramp of leathered feet and the chink of metal, in rhythm to the marching beat, get nearer and nearer. The trumpet shrieks and the three abreast column emerges into the arena with flaming rushes. A Latin command is shouted and the men halt. It is exhilarating; we are back in AD 75, but only for a moment. The generator coughs back to life, the floodlights ignite and the loudspeaker crackles “May the games begin”