Dolly Darko and the Theatre of Souls
Lebanon Circle Magic
Reviewed by Martin Daubney

Seldom is there a magical effect that comes to market that truly could receive a one word review. This is one of those effects and the word is “Awesome”. To be fair though it would be a very short review if that’s all I had to say. Dolly Darko and the Theatre of Souls is not a trick but a way of entertaining people through storytelling, engaging their emotions and maybe touching their souls. Ideally performed in as a parlor act or stage, what you receive is enough to be a self contained act.

So what’s in the box? The star of the show of course is Dolly Darko herself. She has been described by family and friends as repulsive, gruesome, and creepy which is just perfect. I first set eyes on Dolly’s younger sibling about six years ago when the twisted mind of their creator, Dan Baines, placed an advert in Magic magazine for the original Swami Doll. Finances stopped me then but as I got to hear about Dolly, I knew I had to have one, and am delighted that I have. Dolly is extraordinarily well made. Attention to detail is phenomenal in every respect, and that face is… well go and take a look. She looks every bit like the old Victorian doll she purports to be including her clothing, wig and the aging she has received under the careful and watchful eyes of Dan.

Also included is the Theatre Of Souls, which is a charming, although not fully innocent, setting for Dolly to perform her wonders. It looks perfect with its rich red crushed velvet curtains and a hint of devilment on the proscenium just to add some authenticity. The theatre is not the sturdiest of constructions, which is acknowledged by Dan in the thorough DVD that comes with this wonderful piece of theatre, where is it suggested that setting the theatre up permanently with a dab of PVA glue might be worthwhile. I will be doing that with mine.

Dolly of course needs a little help to reach “the other side”. Again this has been thought through fully. Every aspect of setting Dolly up for her performance is explained in full on the DVD. You also get hints and tips on developing the show to suit you, a rather eerie documentary that you could show to an audience to authenticate Dolly and her abilities, and all the files you need to bring this piece of theatre to life.

The beauty about Dolly Darko is that you can make it your own. Dolly can move things about her theatre, select chosen cards and even “kick” things out of the theatre if you make her cross enough. But it doesn’t stop there. If you have already bought Abberline’s Repository (also from Lebanon Circle) then you could easily combine the two, making a whole evening of spooky entertainment. I also hear that Dan plans to release additional pieces for Dolly to play with as his imagination takes hold.

Is this for everyone? Well it is pricey and so probably not. The price might be high but it is more than fair. The works that goes into making each hand made piece is huge, and it shows. Performers who want to move into a darker side of magic are recommended to visit Lebanon Circle Magic to discover more. Collectors of all things occult probably already have one of these in their collection. If not….are you sure you are a serious collector?

This is a ten out of ten piece of magic.


© Martin Daubney, December 2010