Closet Confessions: The Secrets of a Hot Mess (Hot Mess Productions) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Picture of Patrick Cadgen in Closet Confessions: The Secrets of a Hot MessPart solo show, part stand-up special, Patrick Cadegan presents Closet Confessions: The Secrets of a Hot Mess, now playing at the Toronto Fringe. Cadegan tells us about his early life in Cape Breton, coming to terms with his sexuality as a gay man, moving to Toronto, struggling with depression, moving back home, and his eventual return to the city. Breaking up his personal material were short stand-up routines and original character monologues.

This review is based on the July 5th preview performance of the production.

I quite enjoyed watching this show. If I wasn’t laughing, I likely had a smile on my face. Cadegan has an infectiously positive energy that translates well on stage. Don’t be fooled by his permasmile, however; Cadegan is quite forthcoming about the darker parts of his life, but he always has a one-liner to ease the delivery.

I really appreciated getting a glimpse into Cadegan’s upbringing as an East-coaster; for this reason, I particularly enjoyed one of his in-character monologues. The character in question is an archetypal Nova Scotian man who, during his monologue, shares his stance on gay men (spoiler: it’s thinly veiled homophobia). I feel like this character helped round out the show, bringing another slice of Cape Breton onto the stage. On the other hand, I felt that Cadegan’s other original character seemed a little random and out of place.

If there is one aspect of this show I didn’t particularly enjoy, it’s that I wish it was either a stand-up show or a solo theatrical piece. While Cadegan delivers much of the material in a mostly bare stage with a mic in hand (i.e. something that felt more like stand-up to me), his delivery often felt more like recitation rather than a routine. What felt missing for me was experiencing a slightly more authentic Cadegan, which felt like it was particularly missing for me given the extent of his vulnerable, intimate content.

Furthermore, I felt like Cadegan was almost entirely stationary throughout the show. If he was trying for more of a theatrical feel, I wonder if more physicality and characterization work could have made this into a show that felt more visually engaging.

Overall though, I feel like this is a very enjoyable show that dives into an overlooked issue: the intersection of queerness and mental illness. In being so brutally honest (even when it means admitting he’s been a “hot mess”), Cadegan’s show serves as an invaluable, approachable contribution to that conversation.


  • Closet Confessions: The Secrets of a Hot Mess plays at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warnings: mature language; sexual content; for adult audiences.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible. Accessible seating is in the front row.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.


  • Friday July 5th, 1:15 pm
  • Saturday July 6th, 10:15 pm
  • Monday July 8th, 9:00 pm
  • Tuesday July 9th, 8:30 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 1:15 pm
  • Thursday July 11th, 2:45 pm
  • Friday July 12th, 8:45 pm
  • Sunday July 14th, 4:00 pm

Photo of Patrick Cadgen by Tyra Sweet