How to Win Against History

On every front, this show is a winner. The writing is outstanding, the music is catchy, and the performances of each of the actors (including the pianist actor/musician) are faultless. In short, there is nothing not to like in this production which charts the life and times of the little known 5th Marquis of Anglesey, the cross-dressing, extroverted narcissist, and thoughtless spender Henry Paget. This is a smooth, self-aware and supremely polished hour of riotous laughter, participation and even emotional involvement with the protagonist.

A plethora of observations and witticisms that come and go faster than Henry Paget’s family wealth.

Having researched the little documented life of Paget, a figure emanating from writer Seiriol Davies’ own home island, the apparent indignity of his having been unscrupulously wiped from the annals of history is now redeemed. Appearing in an outfit of shimmering blue sequins, the protagonist seems as out of place now as he might have been perceived in his own time. However, performed by Davies himself, ably assisted by Matthew Blake and musical director Dylan Townley, this eccentric figure generates genuine good-feeling as his anti-establishment, norm-defying behaviour gets him both into and out of trouble. Played with wide-eyed exaggeration, Davies successfully conveys Paget as optimistic beyond reason, a characteristic crucial to the overall impact of the piece.

While there is plenty of over-the-top flamboyance, glamour and choreography which fills the stage, though there are only two performers inhabiting it, the writing of this show in fact uses the stereotypically glitzy conventions of commercial musical theatre to cast a satirical eye over the way in which people on the fringes of society are perceived, and to highlight the humanity within people who may look and behave rather, or even radically, differently from what is perceived to be acceptable. Through their up-beat happy-clappy performance style, the characters’ assertion that they ‘don’t mean to challenge you’ could well be taken at face value. However, looking beneath the surface there is much to be learnt about the nature of individuality, even in a world in which the 5th Marquis of Anglesey’s transvestite tendencies ought to be received more readily.

Full of modern day references carefully sprinkled into the tongue-twisting and articulately performed book, the attentively listening audience member will find a plethora of observations and witticisms that come and go faster than Henry Paget’s family wealth. Though one of the most catchy tunes of the piece plays upon the notion that in the theatre one ‘can’t please everybody all the time’, How To Win Against History at the very least will please most of the people, most of the time.

Reviews by Joshua Clarke

SpaceTriplex

A Gentleman's Game

★★★
Assembly George Square Theatre

How to Win Against History

★★★★★
Assembly Roxy

A Streetcar Named Desire

★★★
C venues - C nova

A Number by Caryl Churchill

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

How to Win Against History: A fierce and fabulous costume drama musical about Henry Cyril Paget, the 5th Marquis of Anglesey. Born in 1875, poised to inherit the Empire, he instead burned brightly, briefly and transvestitely; blowing his family's godlike wealth putting on diamond-studded plays starring him (to which nobody came). When he died, his family burnt every record of his life, and carried on as though he'd never been. A hilarious, ripped up new extravaganza by Seiriol Davies (Caroline Horton & Co's Mess) about being too weird for the world.

Most Popular See More

Anything Goes

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Hairspray

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets