David took an MA in Classics from St. Andrews University, where he became the first person twice to win the HJ Rose Memorial Prize for essay writing, and where he remained to work on a PhD on Plutarch's Symposiaka. As an undergraduate, he took part in an archaeological dig in Lakonia, Greece, with Lord William Taylour. While there, he scored the only goal in a football match between the archaeologists and locals, thanks to which he can claim victory over the Spartans. He subsequently taught Classics for eleven years in Edinburgh, St. Andrews and York.
In 1993, David founded the theatre company, Actors of Dionysus (aod), to perform productions of Greek drama throughout the UK and beyond, and for which he directed his own translations and adaptations of Greek tragedies, remaining with the company as Joint Artistic Director until 2004. In addition to stage shows, David produced the Penguin Audiobook of Medea and a video entitled The Face of Tragedy, while his own play Blow Your Mind, Aristophanes! premiered at London's Mermaid Theatre in association with the British Film Institute and Channel 4, an event hosted by Tariq Ali. In 2003 and 2004, David produced Trojan Women and other plays for performance in ancient theatres in Turkey, Albania and Croatia, including at Troy, Pergamum, Ephesus, Aspendus, Butrint and Split. His work has been heard on BBC Radio 3 and 4, his translation of Aeschylus' Agamemnon was adopted as an Open University set text and his scripts have been performed throughout the world. His Trojan Trilogy, a reconstruction of Euripides' lost production of 415 BC, premiered at The British Museum in 2007. In 2015, Curious Cloud wove their Phantoms of the Oracle around extracts from David's adaptations (including new scenes from Iphigenia at Aulis) and his Trojan Women was staged by Oak Elm Productions at London's White Bear Theatre.
David still runs the occasional workshop and events for aod. In May 2012, he devised a special event, featuring readings of his work at London's Reform Club, performed by Jane Asher, Simon Russell Beale, Tom Conti and Fenella Fielding. This led to his spearheading (with Lianna Valenti) the 'aodEvents' programme, which has included readings of David's reconstruction of Euripides' Alexandros and Palamedes at Europe House, London as well as a performance of his special piece 'Savage Beauty' at London's St James Theatre. In August 2013, David directed his Medea for an outdoor performance in London. This was followed in 2014 by Trojan Women and in 2015 by Alexandros. 2014 also saw the release of a CD of Sappho's poetry, produced by David, including readings by Fenella Fielding and songs by Emma Hetherington, while in September he directed an anthology of poems and scenes for a Classics in the City event at London's City Hall, introduced by the Mayor, Boris Johnson.
Independently, in 2013 David curated two events (including Disaster in the Loveliest of Lands) at The British Museum in association with their exhibition, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, and in 2015 he will curate a further two events connected to their exhibition, Defining Beauty.
Represented by Bill Hamilton at A.M. Heath, David is a prolific author of books on classical history and literature.
His AD 410, The Year That Shook Rome, co-authored with Sam Moorhead, published by The British Museum Press in March 2010, was one of the Telegraph's top four history recommendations for that year. In August 2010, Duckworth published his Looking at Lysistrata. This was followed in 2012 by three books: Power Games (British Museum Press, about the Greek Olympics of 416 BC); The Romans Who Shaped Britain, written with Sam Moorhead (Thames and Hudson) and 31BC: Anthony, Cleopatra and The Fall of Egypt, also written with Sam Moorhead (British Museum Press). In 2013 David's Parthenon, Power and Politics on the Acropolis was published by the British Museum Press, with A History of Ancient Greece in 50 Lives (Thames & Hudson) and Looking at Medea (Bloomsbury Press) both out in 2014. He is now editing Looking at Bacchae (Bloomsbury Press) and writing a book provisionally entitled A Travellers Guide to Greek Mythology for Thames & Hudson.
David is an energetic champion of classics. He has served on the Council of the Roman Society and regularly chairs programmes of lectures on Greek tragedy. He speaks at a wide range of events, including literary festivals such as Oxford and Cheltenham and at forum discussions, where he has appeared alongside poets and dramatists such as Liz Lochhead and David Grieg. He has filmed an interview with Bettany Hughes, spoken at Heffers Classics Festival alongside Tom Holland and Michael Scott and led study tours to Italy, Greece and Turkey. He writes regularly for magazines such as Minerva and The British Museum Magazine.
David regularly runs workshops on Greek drama throughout the UK. In July 2015, he will be teaching a course on Greek drama at the University of Cambridge, while in June worked with students on Greek drama at Bradfield College and the Ardingly College Arts Fest.