Louise Clay spends an evening learning about one of Britain’s great eccentrics in this gleeful musical.

How to Win Against History

How To Win Against History is musical theatre and then some; a three-man fast-paced extravaganza of song and sparkle, with a script that will have you laughing all night long.

The performance is based on the true story of Henry Cyril Paget, the Fifth Marquis of Anglesey who was once one of Britain’s wealthiest men.

An aspiring showman, Henry soon squandered his money on all things extravagant, including turning the family chapel into a theatre to put on plays starring himself. Unfortunately, these plays were less than popular, leaving him penniless. After his premature death aged 29, his resentful family attempted to erase any mention of the cross-dressing black sheep from history. 

How to Win Against History

Seiriol Davies’ homage to Henry, which he fittingly created and stars in, is stopping in Bristol as part of its national tour.

The show’s lively mix of comedy and music has been a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for the past two years and has received multiple awards.

Likened to Monty Python, Tim Minchin and Flight of the Conchords, this is not a show to be missed for musical comedy lovers, and the Wardrobe Theatre lends itself perfectly to audience participation, allowing you to sing along to your heart’s content.

The show, which at times feels like poor Henry’s nonsensical ramblings, is played out on a stage covered in beaded curtains, using minimal props and backgrounds, instead letting the characters take you through the story. It tells the tale of an unconventional character who wants to do what he loves, despite some setbacks.

How to Win Against History

Each actor is incredibly talented in their own right; Davies’ wide-eyed portrayal of Henry and his ability to remember every word of what is basically a 75-minute-long song is as equally impressive as it is baffling. 

Matthew Blake’s renditions of multiple characters, each with a different accent, is hilarious. Completing the trio is Dylan Townley, whose talent on the keyboard and expressive character portrayals are integral to the show.

At the beginning of the show, a young Henry is told “history is written by the winners”, but this tale is most definitely an example of the times when it’s not.

Through the little that is known about him, Davies has successfully honoured a man who seemed to have spent his life not fitting in whilst trying to convince others he did.

A hilarious reflection of mainstream entertainment through the eyes of a man who shunned everything it means to be normal.

How To Win Against History is at the Old Market Assembly until 11 November.

Related

How to Win Against History at the Wardrobe Theatre
Performance
How to Win Against History at the Wardrobe Theatre

Tobacco Factory Theatres is partnering up with the brilliant Wardrobe Theatre to bring you this critically acclaimed comedy musical by the gobsmackingly talented Seiriol Davies. This is one not to be missed by fans of Tim Minchin, Hedwig and the Angry Inch or Flight of the Conchords.

The Old Market Assembly
Theatre
The Old Market Assembly

The Old Market Assembly is a responsibly out-of-control restaurant/theatre/bakery and music venue. It's quite simply Bristol's most exciting cultural venue. We can't think of a reason not to go.