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High castles indeed

Forbidden Cassettes: Consummation logo

Forbidden Cassettes: Consummation review

Production company – Silk House Productions

Rating – 5 Brains

I first heard about this show on one of the many podcast related online forums that I’m increasingly frequenting. Somebody had asked for recommendations for shows that are “real”. Obviously, people were suggesting The Lovecraft Investigations, The Magnus Archives and the other usual suspects, but this particular show got an awful lot of mentions. Fearing I had missed out on something, I tracked it down and hit play.

This review is going to be absolutely spoiler free, but hopefully it won’t be too vague to intrigue you. You really should check it out 

So what’s it about?

Forbidden Cassettes is essentially a radio interview. On a radio show similar in tone to Coast To Coast AM (RIP Art Bell), the host, Dov Kandel, is interviewing author Orson Libretti about his new book, Consummation. Orson, it seems, is the custodian of a briefcase found in the clutches of a charred body. The body was discovered in a supposed meteor crater in Nebraska farmland. This understandably mysterious appearance was originally of interest to certain government departments, but it was soon decided to be a hoax. Orson had other ideas though. Inside the briefcase there were numerous artefacts, including a quantity of what appear to be audio tapes. I say “appear”, because the technology used is just different enough to require some reverse engineering to play them.

What do these tapes hold? It seems at first, nothing more than an audio diary, a confession almost. The last will and testament of a man who lost literally everything. The thing is, this is not a man from our world. Well, technically he is I guess. The theory is that he is from a parallel universe. Jack, for that is his name, tells a story of ultimate sorrow and loss, set in a world that is almost identical to ours, yet just different enough.

As the story develops you realise the true scale of what happened, and the inherent danger of the information on the tapes.

Is it any good?

Well, as it was described, this is certainly realistic. I can’t actually remember any show with as convincing dialogue as this. In much the same way as Orson Welles fooled people with his radio broadcast*, you could quite easily stumble on this show and believe you are listening to some kind of Art Bell style show. Having said that, it is only the two main characters that this applies to.

I find the character on the tapes to be slightly overacted. You may think of me as a hypocrite here, because I complained during A Long Night In Egypt that the characters were too emotionally distant. It’s a fine line to walk for sure, but it can be done with care. It doesn’t help that he reminds me of The Jerky Boys character Sol Rosenberg. Thankfully this isn’t too much of a negative, mainly because the Orson and Dov are so well acted it balances out nicely.

The sound design is minimal but amazing, even the little “pop” as the tale starts is a really nice, subtle touch. So subtle, I didn’t even notice at first. “A place for everything, and everything in its place” seems to have been the mantra on the production. There is nothing here that shouldn’t be. This also adds to the realism, as it would be all too tempting to go the full cinematic route, which I feel would ultimately spoil the experience.

Final thoughts

I really enjoyed this show. As the story arc reaches its zenith, there is a lovely realisation of what will happen to Orson and Dov. And I’m not saying any more than that.

You should do yourselves a favour and blast through this as soon as possible. It’s rare for a fiction series to be both as well written and acted as this, and for such a simple concept to be so engrossing. This is a real gem of a podcast.

You can get Forbidden Cassettes: Consummation here:


For more great reviews, I recommend GreatPods

*You can argue all you like about how many people he fooled. We all know that it wasn’t causing widespread panic, but he certainly fooled a few people. I use this example purely as a commonly understood reference, nothing more.

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