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In the Comèdie itlaienne Arlecchino would parodie French tragedies as well comment on current events.Duchartre lists the following as variations on the Harlequin role: Trivelino or Trivelin.The character would never perform a simple action when the addition of a cartwheel, somersault, or flip would spice up the movement."By contrast with the 'first zanni' Harlequin takes little or no part in the development of the plot.
The most influential such pair in Victorian England were the Payne Brothers, active during the 1860s and 1870s.
Originally speaking in a Bergamo dialect, the character adopted a mixture of French and Italian dialects when the character became more of fixture in France so as to help the performers to connect to the common masses.
Various troupes and actors would alter his behaviour to suit style, personal preferences, or even the particular scenario being performed.
The Harlequin is characterized by his chequered costume.
His role is that of a light-hearted, nimble and astute servant, often acting to thwart the plans of his master, and pursuing his own love interest, Columbina, with wit and resourcefulness, often competing with the sterner and melancholic Pierrot.