David Kwong’s Inside the Box [Reaction]

I love words. During this year at home, I’ve really embraced collaboratively crosswording with friends, family, and especially my coworkers (Crossword Meeting is the best meeting).

Inside the Box was the show for me. In so many ways.


Cruciverbalist and magician David Kwong strung words together over Zoom… in, around, and through puzzles, both for and with his audience.

Kwong told a story of the history of puzzles, and presented puzzles along the way, in both obvious and more obscured ways.

A red book, a griffen game piece, a mechanical pencil, and th inside the box puzzle pack.


The show is intimate and genuine. While it’s scripted and performed, it’s also interactive, and in this way, more human.

We solved along the entire time. Like a gameshow, we could play from our side of the Zoom. Not only did I get to try to solve faster than others, I got to meet them.

We had tickets for a (West Coast) matinee, packed with families… and impressive kids eager to solve! It happened to be Oscar’s 11th birthday and we were all thrilled to be celebrating something together – whether we were his old friends, or, as was the case for me, meeting him for the first (and likely only) time over Zoom.

The puzzle types in Kwong’s show weren’t novel, but the Zoom adaptation enabled new tricks that we truly enjoyed.

The show’s biggest miss was leaving out a piece of the narrative, one that seemed to have lent the most inspiration to the puzzles we solved in the show.

Additionally, the pre-show onboarding emails were aggressive and confusing. Emails told me to download and print my puzzle packet at least 24 hours before the show, but not why… until I scrolled significantly further. Don’t bury the lede! And somehow the theater made a mistake and the multiple emails had different show times on them.

That said, the in-Zoom onboarding was stellar. The representative from the Geffen Playhouse took the time to make sure each participant was prepared to have the optimal Zoom experience, and wouldn’t detract from the experiences of others. This introduction went a long way towards making the audience feel comfortable and ready to participate.

If you enjoy puzzles – especially word puzzles – and magic, Inside the Box is a wonderful way to spend an evening.


Inside the Box has been extended through February 14. Extension tickets go on sale to the general public this Friday, November 27 @ 10 am (PST). Visit the Geffen Playhouse website for details.

David Kwong @ RECON 2020

We invited David Kwong to speak at RECON because of his deep knowledge of puzzles and magic. If you enjoyed Inside the Box, or are eagerly awaiting an upcoming performance, I recommend you check out David Kwong’s RECON ’20 talk. All RECON ’20 talks are free to watch!

In fact, one person who learned about David Kwong at RECON was at the same performance of Inside the Box as we were.

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