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A Betrayal of Penguins: Don't Run with Scissors
Published on Sunday, 15 August 2010

3.5 stars

Gilded Balloon Teviot (venue website)
4-30 Aug (not 17), 2:45pm (3:45pm)
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

Adults, let your inner child out!  Get set for pantomime-style shouting, paper aeroplanes and gunge in this charming but fairly odd comedy show from A Betrayal of Penguins.

It's the last ever broadcast of long-running kids TV show Don't Run With Scissors, and you are part of the live studio audience of excited youngsters taking it in (bear with me here).  Presenters Matt Smyth and Ross Dungan have to deal with the possible breakdown of their friendship at the same time as the possible blowing-up of their studio, threatened by a mysterious bomber desperate to keep them on the air.

The two central performers do a convincing take on the energetically vapid stereotype of a kids TV presenter.  Ross was on occasion a bit too faux-cheesy, I felt, while I could easily believe Matt was barely acting at all (which, I hasten to add, could also mean he was acting very well).  Their stage partnership is complemented by pre-recorded video links to Kids Corner, where a child journo gets drawn further and further into outlandish scenarios connected with the bomb plot, guided by a rogue cop who flits between the video recording and appearing in the flesh on stage.

The story is slight, but is pleasantly daft enough to set up some laughs.  There is also some audience interaction, along the lines 'What don't you run with?' 'SCISSORS', but alongside the panto and pratfalls there is a subtle and mature undercurrent around themes of ambition, friendship, love and loss, and a sort of stoic determination in the face of imminent death.  Oh, and there's also a guy in a penguin suit.

Don't Run With Scissors is a pleasant diversion, hosted by some winning performers, where a nice time will be had by all.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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