The Deca Tapes finds the light in a dark reality
I did not expect to like this show as much as I did.
Premise alone, The Deca Tapes is simple: Ten individuals find themselves confined to an area, each with a specific role to fulfill when the time comes. Each episode follows a different individual in an audio log format and we learn about the current situation unfolding in the unknown space and the events leading up to the individual being confined to said space. Oh and did I mention this all takes place in Space? Well, it does.
The story of The Deca Tapes is split into three parts; the current situation happening in the confines of the ten individuals (the mystery around the murder of one of the members known as the Entertainer), their individual backstories and the overarching story of The Deca Group’s corruption coming to the forefront of society.
Immersion wise, I can say the show does lack on this front. While I did enjoy the audio log format, there is a case to be made for if this show were to be acted out in real time. Now, as we discussed in our review, this format while adding to the present-day immersion and performances ultimately would have caused some interpersonal backstory to be pushed to the wayside.
From a performance standout, emotion is lackluster. Because a lot of characters are essentially retelling the events into a microphone, any sort of emotional connection you would look to find ultimately falls flat. Even the fact that all of the individuals in the space are prisoners doesn’t help the show in any way drive some sort of individual attachment.
No, where The Deca Tapes shines is its incredible ability to have the listener ask themselves thought-provoking questions as the show concludes. Since listening to this show almost three weeks ago, I have continued to ask myself questions about the show; Is the show telling us about a balance between order and chaos? Was the order of the characters deliberate? Did the characters achieve balance by essentially teetering the line between order and chaos with the cook’s ultimate choice?
And it’s these questions that made The Deca Tapes such an interesting experience to me. I’m known for my love of my satisfying conclusions; I get mad when endings are not satisfying, when there is a cliffhanger or when they don’t end the way I want them to.
So by my own logic, The Deca tapes should have been a massive disappointment, but it wasn’t. The mystery surrounding the death of the Entertainer combined with the whistleblower story of the fall of the Deca Group and ultimately, the many “what ifs” that the conclusion of the story finished with had my mind racing.
In some ways, you could say that The Deca Tapes as a concept Audio Drama is in itself a fine balance between order and chaos; the order being the structure and play out of the show and the chaos being the cliffhanger ending, lack of depth in a few characters, and the idea that the show created more questions than it answers.
And I think that’s exactly what it wanted to be. The Deca Tapes is a representation of modern days, for all intents and purposes, it is a new take on the privatization of the prison systems, conglomerate control of an industry and “big brother” mentality. It is the Shawshank redemption meets 1985.
This show was nothing that I expected and became everything I needed. This is well worth the title of one of my top podcasts of the year.
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Andrew is the creator of the PlotCast and the driving force behind AudiOhm’s focus on audio dramas. He is also a regular reviewer, as well as co-director and writer for many of our original shows. For Andrew, the only acceptable thing to listen to other than an audio drama is the latest Kanye album.