Journey of Two Gun Cohen from East End boy to Chinese general comes to Kenneth More Theatre

PUBLISHED: 08:00 17 May 2013

Thanks to a previously unknown family connection, a play based on the incredible true story of Morris Cohen will get its world premiere in Ilford, detailing the journey he made from young East End boy to a general in the Chinese army.

Two Gun Cohen will delve into Morris’ amazing life including time as a child boxer, pickpocket, trickster, ranch hand and a member of a Chinese underground group.

The Wanstead Players will present this fascinating tale, written by Liam Rand, which inspired the film The General Dies at Dawn.

Spencer Simmons, of Broomhill Road, Woodford Green, who directed the play, became involved in the adventurer’s life around 30 years ago when he was given an old leather case with the initials MAC.

He was told it was a relation who was an American general but never knew who the initials related to. It was only at a funeral three years ago, when some of his family were talking about his Uncle Morry and his involvement with Two Gun Cohen, that things became clear.

Spencer, 55, said: “It was really exciting when I discovered the connection.

“The play has taken around two years to come together.

“The story is told from 1941 backwards as Cohen retells his story to a man he is sharing a jail cell with.”

It is at the Kenneth More Theatre, Oakfield Road, Ilford, from Thursday, May 23-25. To book tickets call 020 8553 4466 or visit

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