Cerys Bradley: Not Overthinking Things 2019 | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Cerys Bradley: Not Overthinking Things 2019

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

For their charming debut hour Sportsperson, Cerys Bradley was apparently criticised in some circles for not being mean enough to the audience. But that would be anathema to this performer who always strives to cause as little social offence as possible, and often finds themselves in thought spirals, worrying that they’ve somehow blacked out and sent a text that will ruin their reputation.

So for the follow-up, Bradley has opened up that can of worms and made it the subject of their whole show, even developing a ‘meanometer’ so the most moral punter from each performance can gauge ongoing levels of meanness via a system of inflating and deflating balloons.

Although there’s a soupçon of vindictiveness directed at public dancers and people who eat crisps on the train, most of Bradley’s ire is saved for their Dad and his ‘sidepiece’. Bradley is a child of divorce, and there are still unresolved issues there around the way in which their Dad left their Mum for his coworker.

Bradley’s autism diagnosis also comes into play here, rendering the transition perhaps that little bit harder for them to understand, and they talk well about the difficulty in knowing which of their own personality traits are hardcoded and which should be addressed

It’s a topic that connects with the audience, many of whom identify themselves as sporting diagnoses of their own. There’s huge recognition when one routine produces ‘the frog book’, a famous and almost beloved tool for diagnosing autism in children.

Interestingly, Bradley’s attempt to monitor meanness in the show produces a slightly counterintuitive effect: the constant checking of whether one figure or another is being ‘mean’ results in an unusually judgemental audience, and even starts to sour the atmosphere in places.

Bradley is mostly above it, as shown by a touching and complex admission that their Dad had been living with a broken heart for a very long time, and perhaps made the only choice he could have made, even if he didn’t go about it in the right way.

No one in the biz is more careful with their audience’s comfort levels than Cerys Bradley, so it’s interesting that this approach doesn’t always create the gentle atmosphere you might expect. I don’t know how I feel about admitting this, but whoever said Bradley should be meaner last year, I think I agree with them. At the moment, it feels like their natural comic ingenuity is being throttled by their vigilance.

Review date: 13 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Tim Harding
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

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