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Published June 06 2012

Thursday Review: Reverse Charades even better than original

In my earlier years as a parent, I had a dreamy vision that I thought sure would forever bond our family together.

The seven of us would sit down at the kitchen table and blissfully work our way through Monopoly. It would be a memory-creating experience like no other.

Wanting to begin with something age-appropriate, I decided to introduce the “Candyland” board game to our preschoolers.

Let’s just say that even before anyone had reached the Gingerbread Plum Tree, I’d permanently lost my taste for gumdrops and lollipops. There’s nothing that brings on a tantrum faster than a 4-year-old having to slide back down the Rainbow Trail after successfully traversing the Peppermint Stick Forest.

For years, I couldn’t summon the courage to try another board game. But recently I’ve discovered a few that have revived my hope in Family Game Night.

The most recent, Reverse Charades, is every bit as fun – if not more so – than its predecessor, the original Charades.

Children as young as 6 can take part in this game, which simply includes a timer and cards with words that participants act out. The tech-equipped can buy a mobile app that will deliver all the goods right to their phones.

The original Charades requires one person to act out a word while the others guess. With this reverse, retro game, a team acts out the word or words while one person tries to guess.

The objective each round is to guess as many words as possible before the timer stops, and more than the opposing team or teams in the end. Points accumulate for each correct guess.

The biggest challenge came in rounding up enough people – six minimum. Our youngest two were at their cousins’ the night we played, but I was able to coax our 12- and 16-year-old, my husband and his parents to take part. We split into two teams, boys versus girls.

Because of our familiarity with the original Charades, little warm-up was needed. We jumped right in and, almost immediately, the living room came alive with tear-inducing laughter.

Imagine two grown women trying to act out “Seven Dwarfs.” The “seven” was easy, but trying to depict ourselves as miniature men turned out to be more than impossible for us, and comical for the opposing team looking on.

I may never live it down, but neither will I let my husband forget his rendition of “Marilyn Monroe.” He very adeptly found a heating vent, stood above it, and struck the famous Marilyn pose. When his guesser didn’t come up with the answer, he depicted a womanly shape with his hands. Still no go. Marilyn went down in flames. Was it the moustache, perhaps?

But the guys still won when father and son came up with an amazingly fast enactment of “chiropractor.” Without an exchange of words, one swiftly turned into a skilled back doctor, the other, a patient with back issues. With that, they pulled back into the lead.

How my 12-year-old ever figured out my strange actions enough to guess “pogo stick,” and “chopsticks” I’ll never know. Turns out she was the best guesser on our side.

What I love about this game is its lack of generational divide. No matter the age of guesser or actor, everyone plays an integral role. The use of imagination is refreshing, and the spontaneous enactments of the words, hilarious.

You know you have a winner of a game when no one really cares who’s winning because everyone is having so much fun playing, and your moody teens even crack more than a couple grins.

Though we have the standard version of the game, Awesome 80s, Junior and Sports fan varieties also exist.

I can’t imagine this game not being an instant hit at just about any party or family gathering.

Charades, welcome back. In reverse, you’re better than ever.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Roxane Salonen at (701) 241-5587