“Big fleas have little fleas/ Upon their backs to bite ’em/ And lesser fleas have ‘meta’ fleas/ And so ad infinitum.”
Or to put it in plain prose: there’s no end to the manufacture of plays that fool around, self-reflexively, with theatrical conventions. The Right Size (aka Sean Foley and Hamish McColl) kicked off the most recent craze for this kind of thing with The Play What I Wrote (2001), their affectionate meta-tribute show to Morecambe and Wise. The show spawned a subgenre. Even fans of that genre would have conceded that it might be a short step from The Play That Goes Wrong (2012) to, at least hypothetically, The Play That Went Silly and Self-Indulgent.
So it is a considerable pleasure to report that The Comeback – the first show by Sonia Friedman Productions to open in the West End since the pandemic struck and this sector had to go into the frustrations of lockdown – could be subtitled “The Play That Got It, Pretty Much, Spot On”, such is the dizzying adroitness of its meta-theatrical capers.
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