Mayhem at Miskatonic: A Burlesque Mystery Game (Pointed Cap Playhouse) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Sebastian Marziali, Maximum Capacity, Aitana Gunaratne (centre row) Daniel S. Bowen (Brad Puddin’), Bianca B. Boom, Amanda McKnight (Ginger Slap) (bottom row) Stella Kulagowski, Sly Pereira by Sly PereiraThe Dean of Miskatonic University has invited you to a dinner party to unveil a newly-acquired artifact: the orb of “Clit​hulu,” only to find that it has gone missing and now it’s up to the audience to help solve the case! Pointed Cap Playhouse presents Mayhem at Miskatonic, a wild, raunchy, Burlesque whodunit, as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.

If you’ve always wanted to see a wildly inventive H.P. Lovecraft-inspired interactive mystery with striptease performances now’s your chance! This site-specific show takes place at The Painted Lady, a bar that very much looks the part of a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Be warned though, the venue is long and narrow which can result in some sightline issues so show up early and grab a seat near the middle for the best views.

The cast of eight burlesque dancers representing a variety of gender expressions play various jazz-age stock characters; a private eye, a newspaper reporter, a nun, an old-timey explorer. Cast members obviously relish playing up their larger-than-life alter egos throwing around cheesy double-entendres and exaggerated mid-Atlantic accents as readily as they throw around articles of clothing.

Much like the story in a musical provides a framing device for the songs, the story in Mayhem at Miskatonic provides a pretext for a series of striptease numbers as each of the characters gets possessed by the spirit of “Clithulu.” It’s an absolute hoot to watch. 

Burlesque shows can definitely get a little racy and bawdy and not every audience member might be comfortable interacting with a scantily clad dancer so I really appreciated the thought the company put into navigating consent by asking each guest upon arrival and giving consenting audience members a flower lei to wear (which they can then take off at any time to revoke consent).

Truth be told, I didn’t necessarily think the interactive mystery element of the show was particularly compelling but it works as a thematic through-line uniting the various striptease numbers. Mayhem at Miskatonic is silly, it’s goofy, it’s sexy and it’s a heluva lot of fun.


  • Mayhem at Miskatonic: A Burlesque Mystery Game plays at the The Painted Lady (218 Ossington 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 (707 Dundas St. W.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warnings: Not recommended for persons under 18 years of age, Sexual Content, Nudity, Audience Participation, Mature Language
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.


  • Wednesday, July 3rd,  7:00pm
  • Thursday, July 4th, 7:00pm
  • Saturday, July 6th, 2:00pm
  • Sunday, July 7th, 2:00pm
  • Monday, July 8th, 7:00pm
  • Tuesday, July 9th, 7:00pm
  • Wednesday, July 10th, 7:00pm
  • Thursday, July 11th, 7:00pm
  • Saturday, July 13th, 2:00pm
  • Sunday, July 14th, 2:00pm

Photo of Sebastian Marziali, Maximum Capacity, Aitana Gunaratne, Daniel S. Bowen (Brad Puddin’), Bianca B. Boom, Amanda McKnight (Ginger Slap), Stella Kulagowski, and Sly Pereira by Sly Pereira