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May 26, 2024

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SPOKEN WORD: Chris Kessler
Living In A Box - A Journey Through Altered States of Existence (Audio Drama)

By: Jeb Branin

This audio play on CD is something I admire if in principle more than execution. "Living In A Box" is a humorous (at times) piece of social commentary that falls awkwardly somewhere between a neo-interpretation of Artaud's theatre of cruelty and a skit from MADtv. Through a series of loosely connected vignettes Kessler weaves a web of criticism for societal treatment of the "war on drugs" and, more importantly, the press' inability to cover the issue from anything other than a stance that parrots the rhetoric of governmental justifications for outright abuses of its populace. Certainly a noble and justifiable topic for modern dramatic discourse. The problem lies in the execution. Instead of being biting the work seems snotty. Instead of being clever the play is sophomoric. "Living In A Box" certainly does a good job of mocking but it does so not in a way that provides insight but a way that comes across like rude teenagers snickering at someone else's expense. And as was the problem with so much protest theatre of the sixties, "Living In A Box" fails to establish any sort of credibility by infusing hints of viable alternatives to the identified problem thus making it easily dismissed by those who need to hear the message the most. Instead it serves as a pulpit for preaching to the converted which completely undermines its value as a vehicle for debate and social awareness.
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