An Evening with Miss Wong
- Lorna Irvine
- 15 August 2018
Touching bio of Hollywood's first major Chinese American actress
In jaunty top hat and tails, Miss Anna May Wong beams, ' I look good for a corpse'. Michelle Yim is the ghostly raconteur, one Wong Liu Tsong, aka star of stage and screen, Anna May Wong.
With elegance and grace, Yim tells of the pioneering and inspirational woman, who rose from working in the Chinese laundry to become the toast of Berlin Bohemians and ultimately the USA.
Of course, in an industry dominated by yellow face white actors and sexism, Wong was relegated to playing sex workers and empty pin ups, but she was caught in a bind: the paradox of being too modern for Chinese society; yet too 'exotic' for Hollywood. An early interracial kiss was left on the cutting room floor, and it took a long time to be accepted by either side.
Yim is an agreeable companion as Wong with a raised eyebrow and sweet singing voice, but her story, however poignant, feels too overloaded with lineal biographical details. Such a complex and fascinating woman deserves much more mischief. Sometimes, it's good to be bad, not just 'another lotus flower'.
Assembly Rooms, until 26 (not 8, 12, 15, 19, 22) 12.40pm, £10 (£9).