Suzy Wrong Human Cannon rocks at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Suzy Wrong – Human Cannon

Cultural trailblazer guns down Edinburgh Fringe Festival with sex doll

Anna Chen at the ICA, London Suzy Wrong (Pic Grace Lau)
Anna Chen at the ICA, London (Pic Grace Lau)

Suzy Wrong — Human Cannon 

A ground-breaking one-woman show written and performed by Anna Chen at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, 1994

“Charming, witty and sophisticated … I am entranced, won over.” – The Sunday Times

Anna Chen became the first homegrown Chinese British comic actor to write and perform a solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival when she played her transgressive groundbreaking play, Suzy Wrong — Human Cannon, to capacity audiences at the Pleasance Theatre 11th August – 3rd September 1994.

It caused a stir, gaining an armload of positive press and, according to Mu Lan producer William Butler Sloss, was Mu Lan Theatre’s highest earner. It was followed by television appearances including Stewart Lee’s Fist of Fun on BBC2 the following year.

“At least the boys had Bruce Lee. There they were, kung fu fighting to Carl Douglas. Who did I have? Madam Mao and Imelda Marcos. I never knew whether to steal a handbag or start a revolution.” Suzy Wrong — Human Cannon

Anna Chen’s one woman show for the theatre charts the rise and rise of east Asian women and the funny, lewd and sometimes brutal depiction of them. Taking a shotgun and a scalpel to the stereotypes — from tantric sex emperors to Wing Chun, the triumphant heroine of martial arts — Chen portrays a diverse cast of engaging characters from historical fact and fiction, and demonstrates how to epater le bourgeoisie with style, wit and a genuine sense of purpose. At times poignant, witty and stupendously theatrical, this groundbreaking show reverses the lure of Eastern promise as represented by the amazing, gravity-defying ping pong ball act — and shows how to transform your body from a soft target into a lethal weapon.

“Suzy Wrong is blackly comic satire. Viciously precise vignettes illuminate the secret histories of kung-fu, the emperor’s concubines, Wallis Simpson’s singular sexual proclivities, and American trash TV; colonialist perceptions roasted on a spit and exquisitely skewered.”
Sasha de Suinn, Plays and Players

A further selection of reviews and media can be found under Press.

Suzy Wrong premiered at the Croydon Warehouse in August 1994, and played to sell-out audiences at the Pleasance Theatre in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A national tour included the Manchester Year of Drama at The Green Room (17-18 November 1994), the Bath Fringe Festival at the Rondo Theatre, and Swansea UK City of Literature and Writing in 1995 where Anna played at the Ty Llen Theatre’s Autumn Moon Festival (16th September 1995) alongside writers Maxine Hong Kingston and Evelyn Lau, dissident poets Bei Dao and Yang Lian, masterchef Deh-ta Hsiung, and actor David Yip.

The 1995 national tour venues included:
1) Mac — Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham B12 9QH
2) Colchester Arts Centre
3) Komedia, Brighton BN2 18-22 April 1995
4) The Gantry, Southampton
5) Exeter & Devon Arts centre, Exeter EX4 3LS
6) Leeds Metropolitan Uni, Studio Theatre, LS1 3HE
7) Rondo Theatre, Bath Festival
8) Wisbech Arts Centre
9) Guildhall Arts Centre, Gloucester GL1 1NS
10) Watermans Arts Centre, Brentford, Middx TW8 0DS
11) The Wedgewood Rooms, Portsmouth

“Hard hitting and often hilarious … arresting … engrossing and provoking.” – The Scotsman
“… sensitive, intelligent … insistent and illuminating.” – The Herald 
“It’s the stuff of brilliant satire … riveting.” The List

Produced by William Butler Sloss for Mu Lan Arts. Direction Andy Thompson. Design John Carnall. Lighting Susie Hollins. Stage Manager Sarah Kingswell. Photo image on promo flyer by Bob Carlos Clarke. Catsuit by Vivienne Westwood.

See also Anna May Wong: A Celestial Star in Piccadilly. What happened to Hollywood’s first Chinese screen legend tells us much about the status of east Asians in the West.

YELLOWFACE: the erasure of a race. Anna Chen looks at how the mass manipulation of East Asian representation in the culture is still with us and being ratcheted up for western geopolitical ends.


Anna Chen Suzy Wrong Human Cannon Uzi doll
Suzy with her Uzi
Anna Chen Suzy Wrong backstage with Uzi doll
Anna Chen backstage as Suzy Wrong
Anna Chen Ty Llen Theatre Swansea after Suzy Wrong Human Cannon performance
Anna Chen in a panel discussion after performing Suzy Wrong, Human Cannon at the Ty Llen Theatre, Swansea
Suzy Wrong flyer Anna Chen
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