Claudius is the anti-thesis of metatheatre. I was thinking about reading Claudius’s repentance and prayer monologue as obviously fake and suddenly it all clicked into place. Claudius doesn’t play along with how metatheatre works. He knows right from the beginning that Hamlet is faking his madness. He knows shit’s about to go down in the play. When Laertes learns that Hamlet comes back and he’s raving that he’s about to cut his throat i’ th’ church Claudius is like wow you kids are so dramatic, here’s a better thought out plan. I mean, you could just read this as a bored no-bullshit Claudius. He responds to the actual play-within the play with “right, I’m king and you’re deported”. Every time Hamlet goes off on a you can smile on the outside and be a villain inside rant, Claudius’s reaction basically “…okay moving on”. In a play that is all about reflection with almost every character abiding by metatheatre rules, Claudius is never lured into it. I think that’s meant to show he’s remorseless or he cannot reflect on his actions or something.