A 4 minute read

 

Theater Critic: The play La Finestrina, now at Central Theater, was written in Italy in the eighteenth century. The director claims that this production is as similar to the original production as is possible in a modern theater. Although the actor who plays Harlequin the clown gives a performance very reminiscent of the twentieth-century American comedian Groucho Marx, Marx’s comic style was very much within the comic acting tradition that had begun in sixteenth-century Italy.

The considerations given best serve as part of an argument that

  1. modern audiences would find it hard to tolerate certain characteristics of a historically accurate performance of an eighteenth-century play
  2.  Groucho Marx once performed the part of the character Harlequin in La Finestrina
  3.  in the United States the training of actors in the twentieth century is based on principles that do not differ radically from those that underlay the training of actors in eighteenth-century Italy
  4. the performance of the actor who plays Harlequin in La Finestrina does not serve as evidence against the director’s claim
  5. the director of La Finestrina must have advised the actor who plays Harlequin to model his performance on comic performances of Groucho Marx

 

Solution

Passage Analysis

The play La Finestrina, now at Central Theater, was written in Italy in the eighteenth century. The director claims that this production is as similar to the original production as is possible in a modern theater. Key points from these two statements:

(1)    Some play that is now performed at Central Theater was written in Italy in the eighteenth century

(2)    The director of this play opines that the current presentation of the play is as close to the original presentation as possible in a modern theater.

Although the actor who plays Harlequin the clown gives a performance very reminiscent of the twentieth-century American comedian Groucho Marx, Marx’s comic style was very much within the comic acting tradition that had begun in sixteenth-century Italy. Key- points from this statement:

(1)    An actor from the current presentation of the play essays his role in the play like a particular comedian from the twentieth century.

(2)    The acting style of the comedian (from the twentieth century) was within an acting tradition that began in Italy in the sixteenth century.

 Pre-thinking

Please note that the above statements do not form an argument. As of now they are a part of fact set. When we read the question-stem, we realize that we need to form an argument with the given statements. In order to do so, we need to find the correct conclusion. Hence, essentially the question stem asks us to look for a conclusion in the answer choices. So let’s get cracking.

The statements are loaded with information. Let’s try to simplify the presentation of the facts:

(1)    A play was written in Italy in the eighteenth century

(2)    That play is now performed at a theater

(3)    The current production’s director says that his presentation of the play is as close to the original as possible in a modern theater

(4)    The author states that an actor in the current presentation essays his role in the play like a particular comedian from the twentieth century.

(5)    The acting style of the comedian from the twentieth century was within an acting tradition that began in sixteenth century Italy.

So far the statements presented look like loose pieces of information. So the onus will be on the conclusion to tie them up together. The common thread between the director’s claim and the author’s opinion is that the actor in the current presentation of the play acts according to an acting tradition that dates back to an era which is possibly closer to when the play was originally written than the modern time.

With this understanding, let’s screen the answer choices.

Analysis of Option Statements

A. modern audiences would find it hard to tolerate certain characteristics of a historically accurate performance of an eighteenth-century play This option is incorrect. It is completely out of scope. The preference or the likes and dislikes of the audiences have not been mentioned in the argument. Since a conclusion has to naturally flow from the given premises, this option choice is not correct.
B. Groucho Marx once performed the part of the character Harlequin in La Finestrina This option too is incorrect. It is not based on any of the premises given in the argument. The passage neither explicitly nor implicitly supports this statement. Hence, this answer choice is incorrect.
C. in the United States the training of actors in the twentieth century is based on principles that do not differ radically from those that underlay the training of actors in eighteenth-century Italy
 
This option is incorrect. It is out of scope. We know nothing about the training of actors in the twentieth century. All we know from the passage is that the acting style of one of the actors of the twentieth century (the comedian) fell inside an acting tradition that began in sixteenth century Italy.  On the basis of this information, we certainly can’t draw a generalized conclusion about the training of actors in the twentieth century.
D. the performance of the actor who plays Harlequin in La Finestrina does not serve as evidence against the director’s claim
 

 

This option is correct. This choice matches our understanding of and relation between the premises given in the argument. If the acting style of an actor in the current presentation of the play dates back to an era that was closer to when the play was originally written, then certainly this fact does not go against the director’s claim that the play is as close to its original version as possible in modern theater. Moreover, please note the safe language used in the correct answer choice:

…does not serve as evidence against the director’s claim

The correct conclusion choice does not say that the resemblance in the acting style of the actor who plays Harlequin in La Finestrina proves that the director’s claim is valid. It just says that this resemblance is not in the opposite direction as the director’s claim.

Also, this option choice perfectly ties up the loose pieces of information given to us in the argument. Hence, this is the correct answer choice.

E. the director of La Finestrina must have advised the actor who plays Harlequin to model his performance on comic performances of Groucho Marx
 
This answer-choice is incorrect. It  picks up words from the argument but changes the context just enough to make it incorrect.The author has given us no information to support that the director must have advised the actor on his acting style.Also, please note that this answer choice uses very strong language:

the director of La Finestrina must have advised…

Unless explicitly mentioned or indicated in the passage, using such strong words in the conclusion cannot be justified. Hence, this is not the correct choice.

 

 

 

-Solution created by Neeti Sohal.