Review: How to Win Against History At Northern Stage

Katie Garwood reviews the latest play to hit the Northern Stage.

Katie Garwood
18th October 2017
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic

How to Win Against History is a fiercely entertaining, flamboyant, and fast paced biographical musical depicting the tragic yet fabulous short life of Henry Cyril Paget, a cross dressing Marquis who was due to inherit an Empire but instead lived fast and died young.

Seiriol Davies brings a witty, touching recount of Henry’s struggle to survive and be remembered in his seemingly impossible heteronormative world. The play unapologetically deals with topics of historical queer-erasure in a clever and fabulous way; through song and dance, of course.

Straight from Edinburgh Fridge the talented, energetic three-man cast offer an, at first, bewildering step into the loveable narcissist’s life.

Humorous songs such as ‘He is a Good Marquis’ recount how Paget ‘regrettably’ blew his entire fortune on fabulous diamond-clad outfits, hoards of jewellery and an amusing effort to peruse his love of theatre by touring a one-man show. Multi-talented composer Seiriol plays Henry, shattering all ‘expectations great’ of traditional aristocrats in this bizarre, metatheatrical piece.

After dying an outcast aged 29, Henry’s family burnt all traces of his life, the musical’s upbeat and funny songs are interjected with poignant moments such as ‘Flapping out for this Moment’ as we are left to consider this tragic truth of our past. Whilst How to Win Against History uncovers this loss, it also proves that although there is pressure to adhere to rigid norms, nothing is more fun than being yourself.

This musical is all you need to step out of reality and into the extravagant and forgotten world of the 5th Marquis of Anglesey. The brilliant songs can be found on iTunes and Spotify, Davies certainly provides a fierce commentary on what’s wrong with the world in a fabulous and unforgettable way.

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