A Cocktail Party Social Experiment is not theater. It is a parlor game with an audience. Wil Petre and Chiaki Murata have created and trademarked a board game that Petre says was created because, “In a society where social media-dominated communication induces feelings of alienation and detachment, I am interested in creating analog and intimate performances…”.

On stage is a large cocktail table with a prototype of the parlor game that eight volunteers will be playing, while the rest of us watch, as the press release says, boozy voyeurs. The game is comprised of honored guests and hosts. The guests answer questions or prompts; the hosts ask them. Each honored guest in turn becomes the next host. The board game consists of two decks of cards, one with various alchemy symbols; lead, salt, iron, tin… and one with random symbols created by Petre and Murata that represent common aspects of all our lives.

The cards picked for the first guest were hammer and salt. The question was, “What was a recent teachable moment?” Maybe I am too literal but I do not see how that question relates to work (hammer) or salt, which we were instructed pertains to the oceans. As the evening progressed I started to wonder if the players were not so randomly picked. My friend, who also writes for The Front Row Center, felt similarly.

I think if the game is played at home with people one knows it could be more exciting and informative. At home it could inspire revelations about old friends, spark arguments between new friends, like other games of this ilk that already exist; Loaded Questions, Therapy, A Question of Scruples to list a few. One way to make the watching of this game more compelling would be to make sure some older adults are picked. I wanted an old geezer up there, not trying to impress a date or find a date, who possessed bravado and a sense of storytelling from years of dinner conversation.

As for the cocktails. The press release says the book with the prompts also has cocktail recipes and that Wil Petre devised the idea for this game from his years as a bartender. I would like to taste some signature cocktails while watching this event, one called Truth or Dare perhaps or What Would You Do If.

The evening is really a pitch for the yet to be produced board game of the same name. That’s fine and I can see how the board game could be fun and maybe a little scary if played at home.

For $20 and one free drink A Cocktail Party Social Experiment could be a diversion from the usual for a new couple, especially if one of them gets picked to play.

A Cocktail Party Social Experiment, Conceived, developed, and hosted by Wil Petre

Chelsea Music Hall (407 W15th St, New York, NY 10011) on Monday nights, March 16, and April 13, 2020, 7:pm. Doors and bar opens at 6:pm. Tickets are $20 (includes one free drink) and can be purchased at the door or at www.acocktailpartygame.com. A bar on the premises opens an hour before the show and serves drinks throughout the performance. Watch for additional shows soon to be added. Approximately 75 mins with one intermission.