Cancelled - May 2024

“People pay to hear our music, not listen to what we represent.” 

Cancelled, by Four Letter Word Theatre 

© Irene Lu, 2024

Is cancel culture valid? Should public figures who have been cancelled ever be forgiven?

These are the compelling questions posed by Cancelled, Four Letter Word Theatre’s latest production. I had the privilege to be there on opening night.

Featuring catchy tunes and meaningful lyrics, this feisty, fast-paced show interrogates moments of relationships, disappointments, betrayal, and strength. The music kicks off the moment the performance begins, throwing you into a visceral experience of song and rhythm. A fitting start, because the next two hours will be filled with music, dance and story.

Throughout the night, there is a smattering of fun quips and jokes for the audience to enjoy. The crowd this evening loved the range of humour and ate it all up, filling the Guild Theatre with appreciative laughter and gasps. A recurring example of a punchline was show host Tate Tyler, whose appearance called for instant laughter every time they were on the scene. There were also some surprise interactions between the production and us as audience, which allowed viewers to take part in the experience of cancelling and being cancelled.

All the characters in the production are written and portrayed excellently, with the cast embodying a range of extravagant, flamboyant, and sexually-confident individuals, as well as shyer, down-to-earth characters. Their unique costumes, body language and vivid vocals are thrown together with smashing songs and potent lyrics. Truly an explosive combo.

Great thought and effort is put into the costumes as well – you can see a different theme in every scene, even for the backup dancers. The coordination of the outfits was a treat, from the yellow and black highlights of the KPOP group to the faux leather panelling theme in another scene.

Cancelled pulls off the act of providing 28 musical tracks and star performances, while still forming a coherent and clear narrative. Bringing it to life is the cast, who do a great job of delivering fast and emotion-packed lyrics. They achieve all this, while managing fiercely-good dance moves. This is no small feat.

Bringing it home is the lighting, music, sound and set changes, which are done perfectly. The colour scheme of every scene adds a touch of drama to the mood and personality of each character. A brilliant staging choice is also the series of platforms across the stage, which provide a perfect place for each music star to flaunt themselves. And the band of live musicians must be congratulated on their incredible and evocative playing, which never once faltered on the night. It was definitely an enjoyable line-up of performances!

What else can I say – the songs are stunning, the choreography is amazing, and the characters are all so unique and interesting! It was truly a night filled not only with entertainment, but also a complex and challenging plot.

It is not every day that you see an original show planned and prepared for so thoroughly. Nor is it every evening that you see something written, directed, performed and staged with such experience, passion and talent. An experience not to be missed. If you didn't catch this show, look forward to their next production later this year!


Cancelled by Four Letter Word Theatre ran 2nd to 4th May at the Guild Theatre, University of Melbourne, Parkville.