A brand-new, actor-led experience is set to open in Chester this month, bringing to life the city’s fascinating Roman past.
An interactive showcase of Roman Chester designed for all ages and family members, the DEVA Roman Experience will open in the city in time for the summer holidays, becoming the UK’s only actor-led Roman attraction.
The experience will take visitors on a voyage back through time, 2,000 years ago, to Roman Britannia. Arriving in the fortress of DEVA Victrix, they will be led through a meticulously-designed set by a crew of characters, immersing their senses in a Roman bath house, market street and amphitheatre – watching the drama unfold as Gladiators fight it out to the death.
With seven actor-led shows, special effects, cutting-edge projection mapping and real archaeology on site, visitors will need to adjust to the Roman way of life – or risk remaining a measly pleb.
The attraction opens to the public on July 21 in time for the summer holidays. It follows an extensive investment and transformation by Big Heritage, the heritage social enterprise, which acquired the site in 2021. After 40 years as a museum, the site on Pierpoint Lane will become much more experiential, and Chester’s only actor-led attraction.
Georgia Hayes, head of visitor experience at Big Heritage, which also owns Chester’s Sick to Death tourist attraction, said, “We’ve worked incredibly hard to transform the site into a truly immersive, interactive showcase of Roman Chester.
“This unique attraction including an interactive theatrical show will put our visitors right in the middle of the action, rather than looking through the glass.
“We’re all about making history fun and accessible, and with hands-on exhibits and the opportunity to learn about daily life in ancient Rome, all led by brilliant cast of characters, we hope the experience will do just that.”
At the DEVA Roman Experience, guests will be passed from one actor to another as they integrate themselves into Roman life through a cohesive storyline. The seven actor-led shows include Market Street, The Bathhouse, Defend DEVA, Glory of the Gladiator, and The Dig.
The site adds to Big Heritage’s portfolio of venues, which also includes Western Approaches, an iconic World War II bunker in Liverpool city centre.
Rowan Arnold, Performance Manager at Big Heritage, added, “Our professionally trained actors have worked tirelessly to create shows which are both engaging and educational in a fun and immersive environment which allows guests to see, hear, smell, and feel 2000 years of Roman history.”
Images: Kyle Mac Photography