CHARADES, WITH MONSIEUR TROMPE L’OEIL
Players solve a series of charades based on phrases and titles chosen by a moderator and acted by “professional” mime Monsieur Trompe L’Oeil. In the introductory round, players discover that Monsieur L’Oeil is nearsighted and, when reading the charade answers printed on the moderator’s cards, tends to misinterpret words as letter changes. So, he might read “The Right Stuff” as “The Fight Staff” and act out a scene of combat with a quarterstaff. Players must take the letter changes into account as they try to guess the original phrases and titles based on Monsieur Trompe L’Oeil’s strange performances.
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This charades variant arose out of a desire to create a performance-piece game presentation similar to conceptual Jeopardy! games presented by Guy Jacobson and Greg Pliska. Todd Rew, an experienced actor, was an ideal accomplice. He contacted the program director for LA minicons and proposed a charades game without giving away the gimmick. At the minicon Todd ad-libbed the entire verbal presentation, including a plausible story about a professional mime he met through community theater. I had slipped into the bathroom, changed into my costume, and stumbled into the performance area on cue. The eight pantomime routines were prepared in advance. Seven were correctly identified by at least one player; the one stumper was the phrase “Time heals all wounds” (misread as “Mime hears ale pounds”).