How To Win Against History

What a cracking show this is! What an utterly hilarious, ridiculous and relentlessly energetic show this is.

In How to Win Against History, the stories about Paget’s lifestyle have been analysed and played with to create a fabulous piece about sexuality, the pressures of society and the freedom of expression in a rip-roarious musical comedy drag show.

How To Win against History is a three man strong musical about the ‘alleged’ life of exorbitantly wealthy aristocrat and failed artist, Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquis of Anglesey.

Paget lived a short and very extravagant lifestyle. He spent his family’s fortune on diamond dresses and creating theatre that hardly anyone saw. He was a cross dresser, often wearing his bought gowns and developed a reputation as a notorious aristocratic homosexual of the Fin de siècle period. In How to Win Against History, the stories about Paget’s lifestyle have been analysed and played with to create a fabulous piece about sexuality, the pressures of society and the freedom of expression in a rip-roarious musical comedy drag show. It’s all done in a silly and utterly ridiculous way, but is done so well you’ll leave grinning from ear to ear and aching from laughter. It’s also very moving and poignant at times as beneath the jokes and funny songs, this is really a show with great emotional depth.

It’s written, composed and brilliantly performed by Seiriol Davies in the lead role with incredible energy. Mathew Blake shines as his friend Mr. Alexander Keith and various other characters including Paget’s wife and a certain Daily Mirror critic, appropriately portrayed as a disgusting goblin. Thomas Greenville Penn also accompanies playing the piano and taking on various comedic roles throughout the show.

Shifting seamlessly from number to number with a reckless abandon for structure, the chemistry between the three performers is enigmatic. It’s like a music hall or cabaret show but telling a wonderfully weaved full story. In a small setting and with a healthy amount of audience interaction, there’s a warm intimacy to the production that makes it feel as though they could be performing for you in your own living room.

There are a few small stumbles along the way. Tom Penn is a new addition to the show, which had an initial trial run last year, and whilst brilliant for the most part and even show stealing at times, his style occasionally feels slightly at odds with the more settled performances of Davies and Blake. Also certain scenes and jokes go on for a bit too long, disrupting the rapid quality of the piece. But this is still a work-in-progress production and these are small things which do very little to detract from the veracious quality of the production. When fully polished it will be utterly fantastic.

This is a delicious and immeasurably enjoyable show that will have you laughing every minute. With a planned run for Edinburgh next year, How to Win Against History is most definitely one to look out for in the future.

How to Win Against History returns to Ovalhouse from 9th to the 12th of July this year. Don’t miss it!

Reviews by Dave House

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The Blurb

The 5th Marquis of Anglesey burned brightly, briefly and transvestitely at the end of the 19th Century, blowing his family's colossal fortune on diamond frocks, lilac-dyed poodles and putting on simply amazing plays to which nobody came. After he died at 29, his family burned every record of him, and carried on as though he never was.

How to Win Against History is a hilarious, ripped-up musical about expectations, manliness, disappointment and being totally fabulous. A frothy, glossy costume drama about the stories we tell to convince ourselves it's all going well, and the moments we realise it’s not.

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