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Terminus: Like LARPing, But Boring

From start to finish, the theatrical experience Terminus is an interesting idea that fails on execution due to poor organization and misinformation. Billed as an "immersive, interactive theatrical experience" inspired by Watership Down and telling various stories relating to the Civil War, Terminus is an ambitious project, but the creators' desire to maintain an enigmatic air around the work results in the audience being ill-prepared and disappointed by a lackluster evening.

First, when you arrive at the show, which takes place on a nature preserve on the outskirts of Decatur, you are told to park at a nearby school and then wait for the shuttle to take you to the preserve. The "shuttle" is a small car, so if there is a large group and you're pressed for time, you're better off walking. Then, even though your tickets will say 7 p.m., the performance actually begins at 7:30 for one group, and even later for the rest. You're left to awkwardly mill around, possibly using a port-o-potty.

There are three separate experiences to choose from in Terminus. None of the publicity materials indicate that there are a limited amount of spaces in each route, so if you arrive late (or even half an hour early), you will likely not be able to choose the experience you would prefer. Basically, there are three different routes, one of which involves moderate walking, one of which involves running in mud, and one of which involves sitting the entire time. As you haven't likely trekked all the way out into the woods to sit the entire time, you will most likely want one of the more active paths. Of course, the moderate walking path books up quickly, so you may find yourself pushed into an option that involves extensive amounts of running through the woods in the dark. Your best option may be to sign up for this path and then take your own path of desertion once the running begins in order to remain with the middle group.

As for the story itself, it bears some relation to Watership Down, maintaining the names of the characters (now transferred to Civil War soldiers), and some of the personality traits (Fiver is still clairvoyant, Blackberry is still the navigator, etc.). But around the time Bigwig starts singing a ten-minute spiritual and reading letters from his enslaved wife back home, the loose threads of the story come unspooled completely. There's also something somewhat cannibalistic about the crowd being served rabbit stew during a Watership Down inspired plot.The stationary plot line involves stories told from the point of view of the women left behind, and it's difficult to imagine how those stories would relate to the Watership Down theme, as there wasn't a lot of woeful letter-writing in the warrens.

If you're not a hardcore Watership Down geek, the surface plot consists of army deserters fearing danger and running home through the woods, occasionally dying. It's very, very slow, generally boring, and you'll find your mind drifting back irritably to the lengthy and ineffective legal waiver you are made to sign upon arriving. It fails to capture the fun and excitement of New York's Sleep No More experience, which appears to have been an inspiration for the creators of Terminus. Basically, you may feel as though you're involved in a snoozy, poorly lit version of LARPing. With so many theatrical options in and around Atlanta, do yourself a favor and skip this one.

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