Cerys Bradley @ Gilded Balloon Teviot

Cerys Bradley's Sportsperson is a playful Edinburgh Fringe debut exploring societal gendering and sport

Review by Anita Bhadani | 11 Aug 2022
  • Cerys Bradley

“Why does it feel like you need a gender to play a sport?”, Bradley muses, poking fun at the absurdity of societal gendering. Sportsperson is Bradley’s solo debut at the Fringe, and across the hour-long set, we are treated to a wide array of topics – from navigating gendering in sport as a nonbinary person, to running a (half) marathon, to receiving an autism diagnosis mid-twenties, mid-lockdown – with wit and warmth. 

Alongside the expected audience-facing standup, background audio represents Bradley’s ruminating inner dialogue. It serves to pick apart aspects of Bradley and their anxieties around how they’re perceived, adding an intimate new dimension to the show. It’s also interesting watching them interject a bit of performance into the set in this way. 

Bradley very much invites audience participation throughout, which injects the hour with some playfulness – when recounting their experience running a half-marathon, they actively invite an audience member to playfully heckle them. Elsewhere, we are invited to read out prompts for Bradley to react to. 

Towards the middle of Sportsperson, Bradley discusses their brother becoming a father, and their own feelings toward potentially having a child. To aid this section Bradley introduces some physicality to the show but while it somewhat lands, it feels just slightly out-of-place amongst the rest of their routine. Bradley’s hour handles big topics with sensitivity and care, offering us insight into their own journey with gender and how this plays out within a wider climate of transphobia and discrimination exasperatingly pervasive within organised sport and society at large.

At the end of the show, they hand out zines with work from collaborative workshops with trans people, facilitated by illustrator Hana Ayoob while the zines themselves were assembled by Bradley and illustrator Izzie Purcell. It’s a really cool initiative, and a nice demonstration of both Bradley’s commitment and care to their subject matter, and the power of comedy and art to help foster connection. 

Cerys Bradley: Sportsperson, Gilded Balloon Teviot (Wee Room), until 28 Aug (not 15), 4.40pm, £10.50-11.50