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Parodies regained

Books | By Benedict Nightingale | December 2017

Pocket Playhouse: Thirty-Six Short Entertainments By Michael Frayn

Back in the early 1960s, Michael Frayn made his name with satirical columns he wrote for the Guardian and published as The Day of the Dog and The Book of Fub. Then his targets were very much of the period: advertising and PR men, Carnaby Street, and the likes of Chris Smoothe, Minister of Chance and Speculation. And now here he is, fifty years later, author of some of our time’s finest plays and novels, cheerfully updating his old shooting gallery. Phone mazes, password lunacies, celebrity mania, sponsorship, even those living statues that hang in the air disguised as Mrs Thatcher or Superman: all and more get a peppering from the veteran Frayn in his Pocket Playhouse. Matchbox Theatre, but is more obviously meant to be read than staged. It is at full comic throttle from the start. After a parody of the over-elaborate instructions that make assembling DIY kits so daunting, Frayn goes on to...

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