Pros: Highly hilarious, wonderfully catchy: all in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
Cons: Too short, if anything!
A show this flashy and fabulous certainly deserves its space at the Young Vic, with its contemporary feel matching Seiriol Davies’s modern comedy about the 5th Marquis of Anglesey, Henry Paget. Since its previews at the Ovalhouse, How to Win Against History has visited the Edinburgh Fringe and landed in London again with slightly more sparkle and fairy lights. But is no less fresh and enjoyable than last time.
Based on the true story of a Marquis whose reputation was destroyed, along with all evidence of him, How to Win Against History is the song and dance Henry Paget deserves. We laughed at his extravagance, but it is an ode to his ability to be true to himself. Davies’s sarcastic and playful spin on storytelling, paired with character doubling by Matthew Blake and a repeated breaking of the fourth wall made for a belly-laughing performance and a remarkably funny spoof of mainstream entertainment. Its self-aware nature and narration guided us through the bizarre life of our cross-dressing Marquis and gave leverage for some outrageously comedic songs with more than catchy rhythms. Head to toe in sequins Davies’ performance was dazzling and endearing: he is able to embody Henry with such confidence yet keep the characters complexity and vulnerability. The trio of performers bounced energy off each other consistently and delivered the witty script with such conviction that the audience could barely suppress side-splitting laughter.
A showbiz set combined with abundant beautiful lighting encapsulated Paget’s desire to be a star and his love of all dramatics. The lighting display was cued wonderfully in time with both songs and gags maintaining the shows sharp witted nature. I thoroughly enjoyed all elements of this play and a comment made by an audience member in the seat in front really captured this shows essence: ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’. You certainly won’t again. This show is truly a gem amid off-west end performances and is so unapologetically itself. Now I don’t hasten to say this, but I believe How to Win Against History to be my favourite show that I have ever seen in London, and I cannot urge anyone enough to get yourself down to the Young Vic to see this bedazzled beauty. I will certainly be visiting again multiple times.
Author: Seiriol Davies
Direction: Alex Swift
Box Office: 020 7922 2922
Booking Link: https://www.youngvic.org/whats-on/how-to-win-against-history
Booking Until: 30 December 2017