Molotov Circus (Squeezebox Mama) – 2010 Summerworks review

by George Perry

Solmund Patterson, Debbie Patterson and Gislina Patterson   

Molotov Circus is not a one woman show, but it is a one family show. It is playing at The Lower Ossington Theatre in Toronto as part of Summerworks. Anybody who has ever been part of a family can recognize their own youth, their own mothers, fathers and siblings in this play.

This is a family of gypsies, so they don’t have the typical domestic trappings. What they do have is each other and their great talents.

There are thrills and chills aplenty. The show stopping song Coin Operated Boy by daughter Albina (Gislina Patterson) ought to be a big hit single. She provides a lot of the highlights. From flirting with the audience to biting the head off of a chicken, this young woman is compelling and amazingly talented.

Solmund Patterson is also brilliant as son Spartak/Anti-Gravity Boy. This young man has more talent than many men triple his age. He’s an actor, acrobat and musician, to name a few. He had the audience clapping along while displaying his skills. Percussionists of the world are forewarned: Anti-Gravity Boy can turn a skateboarding helmet into a drum kit!

Debbie Patterson wrote the play. She also directed it along with Arne MacPherson. She is superb in the role of Zoya, the matriarch. Her accent and comic timing are brilliant. The words she uses are cutting, simple and base, but so very true.

Arne MacPherson plays the father of the family, Maxim. He is wise and the rock, the stability in this family of gypsies. At times his Eastern European accent sounds like a grandfather who has inhaled helium while watching Pee Wee’s Playhouse, but then again, don’t all grandfathers? The skill it takes to perform an entire play on stilts, in an accent that never wavers, and to portray emotions honestly is enviable.

The characters onstage are all circus freaks, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is a story about family. The pains, the joys, the love, these things are universal, experienced by all of us. For four people to express all this on a single stage in about an hour is a monumental achievement.

That being said, this IS a comedy. You will laugh and clap along.  The performance that I attended deserved and received a standing ovation.  This play will stick with you. You will be thinking about it long after the play is over and you have left the theatre.

Molotov Circus is playing at The Lower Ossington Theatre
60 min.
Fri, August 6 7:00 PM
Sun, August 8 2:00 PM
Mon, August 9 7:00 PM
Thurs, August 12 4:30 PM
Sat, August 14 2:00 PM
Sun, August 15 7:00 PM

– All individual Summerworks tickets are $10 at the door (cash only)
Advance tickets are $11 ($10+$1 convenience fee)
Tickets can be purchased:
-Online at
-by Phone at 416.504.7529
– in person at the Arts Box Office (located at Theatre Passe Muraille 16 Ryerson Avenue, One block North East of Bathurst & Queen)
– Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see multiple shows