Dolce Via

Siobhán Nicholas Writer
John Ramm Director
Chris Barnes and Siobhán Nicholas Performers
Arthur Pedlar / Clown Vercoe Magic and Comic mentor
Jean Tyler, retired performer with Concert Artistes Association and D'Oyly Carte Opera Historic advisor on C20th Music Hall performers and Concert and Variety artistes

This play was a co-production with Guildford's Yvonne Arnaud Theatre. We also had support from ACE’s Grants for the Arts and Larkhall Coridon ltd

Background to the play

The famous French magician, Robert Houdin (1805 – 1871) revealed in his memoirs that his life had been irrevocably changed when, after falling ill on the road, he had been rescued and nursed back to health by a mysterious stranger who turned out to be a retired magician. This Good Samaritan not only shared the secrets of his craft with the young Houdin but also his tragic history: he had been a successful and renowned magician until one night, whilst performing The William Tell, he accidentally shot and killed his young son.

Years later Houdin himself became famous for a trick which involved persuading an audience member to shoot at him with a marked bullet which Houdin would then catch between his teeth. A young American magician, Ehrich Weiss, was so impressed by the French man that he changed his name to Harry Houdini.   

He should be married to his art as a man is married to his wife, and he should love her with all his heart and mind for her own sake and not for the purpose of making money or to satisfy his ambition. If he loves his art, his art will be true to him.
— Paracelsus
Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakes
— Jung
To make up for my emptiness,
I turned to art
— Fellini

The Story

Freddie Tourrino was blissfully happywith his life on the road: performing with his wife, Grainne in the MusicHalls and Variety Theatres.  For a while, The Great Tourrinos were even top of the bill. Then one night, tragedy struck in the middle of the show...and his life changed.  Years passed but the memories never faded...then one night Freddie had a visit which changed his life again.

For just one evening, The Great Tourrinos will be strangely reunited.  Together again, two intrepid artistes will endeavour to entertain you, to mystify and amaze you withone last turbulent performance of magic, song, fire eating, mind reading.... and memory!  

What people have said about  Dolce Via

The Public Review -  Clwyd Theatre Cymru, Mold
Reviewer: Jane Dawson

Probably set in the 1970s when stand-up was in its infancy and dodgy jokes the norm, this play tells the story of a broken man. Freddie Tourrino is a journeyman – a man who travels from place to place to entertain with storytelling, magic, clowning, drama and music in a vaudeville tradition. Born to it like his father and grandfather before him, he meets his soul mate in the Donegal countryside and steals her away on a motorbike to an itinerant’s life in England. His life with Grainne is hard but fulfilling – perhaps in spite of his trade he is an artist as well as an entertainer – and the couple have a perfect son, Joseph.

A tragic accident shatters the couple’s lives when Joseph is killed during the Great Tourrinos’ act on stage. They both blame themselves, are tortured with grief and guilt, and the marriage pays the price when Grainne “disappears” in the middle of the act...

Read more from Jane Dawson's review of Dolce Via 

Daily Info Oxford - Burton Taylor Studio Oxford Playhouse
Reviewer: Andrea Hopkins

This new play combines ‘mentalist’ tricks, ventriloquism, fire-eating, uni-cycling and some pretty funny stand-up with an emotional disclosure of the hero’s attempts to recover from a devastating tragedy that results in the loss of his son and wife. The narrative of this piece is peppered with illusions of a broad, circus/music hall nature, and is itself shifting and tricksy, so that you can’t be quite sure exactly what is happening...

Read more about Andrea Hopkin's review of Dolce Via

Liverpool Daily Post - Unity Theatre, Liverpool
eviewer: Laura Davis

SIOBHAN NICHOLAS’ play Dolce Via is a wondrous magic trick from start to finish, conjuring the lost age of the variety circuit with affection, a bold sense of fun and not a little courage.

The Great Tourrinos come together after years of sadness and failed ambition to perform one last show. And what a show it is, with fire swallowing, unicycling and song – not forgetting a melodrama.
Nicholas’s meticulous research shines through, for she hasn’t simply written a two-man play but put together a variety act...

Read more about Laura Davis' review of Dolce Via  

Gloucestershire Echo -The Everyman Studio Theatre, Cheltenham
Reviewer:  Lystra Maisey

Being married and divorced in one evening runs a gamut of emotions, but pales in comparison to the life of Dolce Via.

My fleeting appearance as magician's assistant was part of an act within an act, a magical tale of a life lived between worlds, of which alchemy dreams are made of...

Read more about Lystra Maisey's review of Dolce Via

We are rewarded by two stunning performances and by a sense of hope – no matter how bleak, how tortured we are, it’s possible to face our inner demons and overcome them, rediscovering ourselves in the process
— The Public Review - Jane Dawson
Chris Barnes and Siobhan Nicholas

Dolce Via has played at 

Devonshire Park Theatre

Clwyd Theatre
(Cymru, Mold, Flintshire, Wales)

Belgrade Theatre
(Coventry, Belgrade Square, Coventry)

The Mill Studio
Guildford’s Yvonne Arnaud

Burton Taylor Studio
Oxford Playhouse

The Lowry
(Salford Quays, Manchester)

Harrogate Theatre

Greenwich Theatre
(Crooms Hill, London SE10 8ES)

Unity Theatre
(Hope Place, Liverpool L1 9BG)

The Everyman Studio Theatre

Quay Arts Centre
(Newport, Isle of Wight)
Norden Farm Centre for the Arts
(Maidenhead, SL6 4PF)

The Lighthouse Studio in Poole

The Hat Factory

Forest Arts Centre
(New Milton, Hampshire)

The Ross Live Festival
The Phoenix Theatre
(Ross on Wye, Herefordshire
Havant Arts Centre)

Brighton Festival Fringe 2009
The Hive @ The Brunswick

CHris Barnes and Siobhan Nicholas in Dolce Via

Tour Package

This production has been devised to accommodate any stage or space from tiny studios or church halls to the mid scale and up to the larger classic proscenium arch  

Marketing Support: A6 or A5 fliers, A3 Posters.

Totally Flexible Staging: quick get in with small set/no flats

Tech Requirements: High production values but minimal lighting is possible. Sound on cd or mini disc

Fee: this is a two person show and we tour a technician/ stage manager so our minimum fee for one performance is £850.  

This is negotiable but for each venue we also have to factor in travel and distance travelled along with any overnight costs.

Outreach Work Available: Workshops and Post Show Discussions. Please see our resources page.

Cancellation fees will be requested only after dates and fees have been confirmed and when the company deems that valuable time has already been invested in the set up.