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Ovalhouse and Aine Flanagan Productions present

How To Win Against History by Seiriol Davies

How to Win Against History is a hilarious, ripped-up musical about expectations, manliness, disappointment and being totally fabulous. 

  • 29 April - 9 May Weds-Sat 7.45pm, Sun 10 May 5pm

Venue: Upstairs

Please note that, regrettably, the upstairs theatre is not currently accessible for wheelchair users.

Based on the charred remains of a true story.

The 5th Marquis of Anglesey was one of the wealthiest men who ever lived. He burned brightly, briefly and transvestitely at the end of the 19th Century, blowing his family's colossal fortune on diamond frocks, lilac-dyed poodles, putting on amazing plays to which nobody came, touring Germany performing the inexplicable "Famous Electric Butterfly Dance", and generally desperately trying to make himself a legend. After he died at 29, his family, in vengeance, burned every proof they could find that he existed, and carried on as though he never was.

How to Win Against History is a hilarious, ripped-up musical about expectations, manliness, disappointment and being totally fabulous: Hedwig and the Angry Inch meets Noises Off in a ballgown. A frothy, glossy costume drama about the stories we tell to convince ourselves it's all going well, and the moments we realise it’s not.

Directed by Alex Swift (Caroline Horton's Mess) and performed by Seiriol Davies and Matthew Blake (Punchdrunk).


  • Wed 29 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Thu 30 Apr, 7:45pm
  • Fri 1 May, 7:45pm
  • Sat 2 May, 7:45pm
  • Wed 6 May, 7:45pm
  • Thu 7 May, 7:45pm
  • Fri 8 May, 7:45pm
  • Sat 9 May, 7:45pm
  • Sun 10 May, 5:00pm

Writer/Performer: Seiriol Davies
Seiriol Davies trained at the London International School of Performing Arts and has made shows with companies including You Need Me, Punchdrunk, Gideon Reeling, Kristin Fredricksson, Giant Bird and Caroline Horton, with whom he created Mess, which won The Stage Award for Acting Excellence 2012 (Best Ensemble). He is half of the cult music hall comedy act Underbling & Vow (“London's premier retro-blitz granny rockers” - Time Out) and has toured internationally with the Weimar glam rock opera band Temper Temper, for which he writes the songs with artist Wendy Bevan. His first full-length play, Moon River, a surreal comedy set in an old people's home, was produced at Pleasance in 2012. He is represented as a writer by Curtis Brown.

Director: Alex Swift
Alex is a theatre maker, director and performer with experience of working with both devised and text-based theatre. His direction of Caroline Horton’s Mess at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh won the 2012 Best Enemble Stage Award and was described as“perilously close to genius”by TimeOut. He is particularly interested in play, the politics of performance and representation, the nature of participation and the power ofthe audience in the theatrical encounter. He has made comedy with Richard Crawley, and worked with directors and companies including Chris Goode, John Wright, Daedalus Theatre and Slung Low. He trained at Ecole Philippe gaulier and Cambridge university. He is currently collaborating with the writers Kieran Hurley on a new play about violence, and developing his solo show Travesty, which is under commission from Theatre in the Mill, Bradford.

Performer: Matthew Blake
Mainstream theatre credits include: Larry Fortune and Mr Tuttle in THE DROWNED MAN: A HOLLYWOOD FABLE directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk/National Theatre, Matt in BANK ON IT directed by Sue Buckmaster (Theatre Rites/Barbican) Mr Winter in THE HOUSE WHERE WINTER LIVES directed by Peter Higgin (Punchdrunk), Momentologist in THE GOOD NEIGHBOUR directed by Sarah Golding (Battersea Arts Centre), Captain Solomon in THE CRASH OF THE ELYSIUM directed by Felix Barrett (BBC/Punchdrunk), M Gould in STARTY directed by Kate Hargreaves (Soho Theatre), Bertram St. Handwich in SALON DU THÉ directed by Kate Hargreaves (Newbury Corn Exchange), Maurice Chevalier in MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH directed by Felix Barrett and Maxine Doyle (Punchdrunk). Matthew has also written and performed in many Punchdrunk enrichment shows. He is also in a comedy Music Hall band called THE DEAD VICTORIANS in which he sings and plays percussion. He has also appeared in some very mainstream adverts.

Performer: Tom Penn
Tom Penn is a theatre maker and composer. He is part of Little Bulb Theatre, and has collaborated extensively with companies including RashDash, Dancing Brick and The Paper Cinema. He has made independent work for Forest Fringe and Chris Thorpe, and is currently creating new work for Battersea Arts Centre.

Movement Direction: Bert Roman

Designer: Petra Hjortsberg
Petra is an award nominated Theatre & Performance Designer who works internationally across Theatre, Dance, Opera & Film. Recent theatre design credits includes the OFFIE Best Set Design nominated shows Free Fall (The Pleasance Theatre, London) & Occupied (Theatre503, London). Other Theatre Design credits include; Silent Planet (Finborough Theatre, London), Freak (Theatre503, London/Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh),Companion Piece (The Pleasance, London), Body Electric (Best Production &  Best Off-Site nominee, ABSOLUT Fringe Festival, Dublin) andTreasure this? (Bush Theatre, London) as well as Associate Design credits on Moon Illusion (Copenhagen Music Theatre, Copenhagen), Land Of Our Fathers & A Handful Of Stars (both Trafalgar Studios, London). Film credits include: Magpie, Way of the Monkey’s Claw, The 95th, PubMonkey, Blind Man’s Dream, For Better or Worse & Termination(UK). In 2013 Petra exhibited at the international World Stage Design Exhibition. She is a Creative Associate at Gate Theatre (London). 

Dramaturg: Eve Leigh
Eve Leigh is a playwright and theatre-maker. Her first full-length play, Stone Face, was recently nominated for a King’s Cross Award. She is the creative director of All Change, which brings innovative performance to new audiences across Britain and internationally. The All Change Festival will be at the Lyric Hammersmith this October. She is the writer on Oscar Mike’s A Day In The Life Of Someone Else at the ARC Stockton and Shoreditch Town Hall; and Illusionists at Shoreditch Town Hall (shortlisted for the Title Pending Award at Northern Stage). Her plays have been performed at the Birmingham REP, Trafalgar Studios, the Arcola Theatre, Theatre503, the Pleasance Theatre Edinburgh, RADA, and as part of the Festival of the Northeast. Additional devising credits include Numbers with Vladimir Shcherban of Belarus Free Theatre. She is an Associate Artist of Firehouse Creative Productions. She trained at the Royal Court’s Young Writers’ Programme and Studio Group; at the National Theatre’s Directors Course; and at Cambridge University.

Producer: Aine Flanagan
Áine Flanagan, an Irish Freelance Producer, Art Director and Marketing manager. After touring both Ireland and the United Kingdom for several years as a Company and Stage manager, Áine moved to the UK full time to pursue a career as an Independent Producer. She took part in the award winning Theatre503's resident Assistant Producer programme in early 2013 which launched her producing career, going on to assistant produce and production manage numerous productions for the venue.  Áine's current projects include, How to Win Against History, by Seiriol Davies and Margaret  Thatcher Queen of Soho by Jon Brittain and Mathew Tedford. How to Win Against history will be performed as part of OvalHouse's Spring season and Latitude Festival 2015. Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho has just finished a sell out week at Leicester Square Theatre and we return to the Edinburgh Fringe this year.

Additional information

Developed in assocation with OVALHOUSE and Arts Council England.

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