A CONTROVERSIAL play which was cancelled over concerns about racism is coming to Worcestershire.

Chinese Boxing by Mark Kitto was cancelled by the Sheringham Little Theatre in Norfolk due to its anti-racist policy.

The show uses the story of the siege of the foreign legation in Peking (Beijing) in 1900 to explain why China and the West still fail to understand each other.

However, the show is due to be at the Coach House Theatre in Malvern on July 24 and Huntingdon Hall in Worcester on July 25.

It begins as a lecture to the Worcestershire Royal Asiatic Society in the year 1912, the year the Republic of China was founded.

Sir Claude MacDonald, former minister plenipotentiary to Peking describes his experience commanding the defence of the Legation and prepares to tackle the bigger ‘China Question’, when, by virtue of some theatrical licence – the audience is whisked back to Peking in 1900 and has that question directly answered by the Empress of China’s senior general.

The general does not mince his words, addressing what he assumes to be a foreign delegation.

He also promptly switches from Chinese to English for their benefit.

Questions had been raised about a western actor playing a Chinese role.

Mark Kitto, who wrote and performs, and who lived in China for 18 years, speaks the language fluently, has a Chinese family, and a says he has a "sincere intention" to give a hard-hitting account from the ‘other side’ of the argument.

He said: ‘My playing the roles for each side amplifies the hypocrisy of the West.

"It really makes people wake up and think and I am very careful indeed how I do it.

"I have had wonderful and very encouraging feedback from audiences, especially people who expressed initial concern."

Former cabinet minister Gillian Shepherd, who watched a recent performance, said, ‘Everyone should see this.’

As Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian and Radio 4 put it: ‘A stimulating and original show – I learned tons.’

The show is followed by a Q&A session about China and the West now.

Mark has some enlightening insights thanks to his many years’ engagement with the country.

‘Chinese Boxing’ is at the Coach House Theatre Malvern on 24 July, www.malvern-theatres.co.uk and Huntingdon Hall Worcester on 25 July, www.worcesterlive.co.uk