How To Win Against History
As I was unable to attend How To Win Against History myself I am delighted to welcome guest reviewer Katie Rose who runs her own blog over at Rosereview.
‘How to Win Against History’ written, composed, and performed by Seiriol Paget, is based on the charred true story of the 5th Marquis of Anglesey Henry Cyril Page. He was one of the wealthiest men at the end of the 19th Century. Henry blew his family’s colossal wealth on diamond frocks, jewellery and put on amazing plays to which there was lack of audience. He then went on to tour Germany with his inexplicable “Famous Electric Butterfly Dance,” again failing to attract viewings. Although this can be demoralising to some, Henry still burned brightly and briefly until the age of 29 where he sadly died. His family, in vengeance went on to burn every proof they could find of his existance and then carried on as if he never was.
How to Win Against History focuses on Henry’s short yet extravagant life. This included an all boys school, a failed marriage, touring performing days and his death. This was all demonstrated through song and rhyme. The writings of Seiriol throughout How To Win Against History, presented excellent timing and brilliant tongue in cheek comedy. At times the songs were in similar style to TV series ‘Flight of the Concords’ which had the audience laughing and applauding with each pun.
I had the pleasure of seeing How to Win Against History on the 22nd July, the final press night at the Oval Theatre, South London. After its last performances this week it will be heading to the Edinburgh Fringe. I was delighted to be part of the audience. On first entering the theatre you are greeted with a simple set of 3 stools, a piano and a back drop with fairy lights scattered around it. This allowed the audience to focus more on the story than the surroundings.
The first performer walks on, ‘The Band’ Dylan Townley who sat by the piano whilst the final audience members entered the theatre. He began to warm up the audience’s giggles with his reactions to the late comers. As he did so a silence spread over the audience awaiting the show to start but not before a quick reminder to turn off your phones which was kindly put in place with a disapproving nodding of the head from Dylan when someone’s phone pinged, it was all in good humour.
Matthew Blake, the supporting actor of the night played Alexander Keith. Alexander was an actor who followed and supported Henry in his plays and also went on to tell his tale to the unappreciated British public when Henry flees to Monte Carlo. Along with Alexandra, Matthew performed a number of various roles with their own comical value to the story. Each role was created with a slight gesture, such as the hands out for Lilian to display her dress allowing the audience to understand but also brought laughs. His singing was strong and was a joy to listen to, which matched perfectly with Seiriol and Dylan.
Seiriol Davies the creator of the musical performed on the stage in a dark blue sequined dress with tasselled shoulder pads. He showed great comic timing and stole the show with his innocence and his portrayal of the main man Henry. At times his words did run away with him, consequently on occasion it was hard to keep track of what he was saying, which may have led to missing out on a joke or two. His audience interaction was a joy to watch, talking directly to the public and selling his story ‘giving the people what they want!’ It is a piece that he should be proud of and along with Matthew and Dylan provided a strong performance.
The musical received a well deserved standing ovation. This new ripped up musical is hilarious from start to finish, representing expectation, manliness, disappointment and being totally fabulous! When leaving the venue it makes you go away wanting to research Henry Cyril Paget further and therefore proves the musical has succeeded in what it was trying to achieve. This is despite the fact that Henrys’s family tried to erase him, showing Henry he has won and has a history for the public to hear (hence the name of the show).
Where to Catch How To Win Against History:
How to Win Again History is playing every night until the 23rd July at the Oval House Theatre, in South London, it will then go to Edinburgh Fringe. If you get the chance to go to see this comic musical drama you won’t be disappointed, because even though you might be too weird for the world, doesn’t mean the world should forget you and that is definitely what Henry achieved.