A NoHo Arts theater review of “Tragic Magic,” written and performed by Sigute Miller, directed and developed by Beth Bornstein Dunnington, produced by Gwenn Morreale at the Whitefire Theater Solofest.
Sadly this is the final Solofest show for me this year, but the festival has ended with a particularly wonderful and poignant way. “Tragic Magic,” written and performed by the very talented Sigute Miller, is her story of addiction, recovery and loss.
But for what must be a difficult story to tell through a deeply personal performance, “Tragic Magic” has so many sweetly human and very funny moments. It is told lightly, authentically and with a kind of gentle grace.
Such a strange mixture really, because there are so many moments of tragedy, moments of brutality and raw confessions from Sigute and that can be very tricky to balance with our understanding and acceptance. And of course those are the things we must have as an audience in order to truly embrace her work. But, somehow she does achieve this. Maybe that’s the ‘magic’ of it. Perhaps it’s her kind face, or complete authenticity, her willingness to share her feelings of ‘shame,’ her struggle to forgive herself, and her story. Whatever it is, it creates a kind of golden light on stage, a safe place for us as well as for her.
Sigute Miller is the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants and as such she struggled for acceptance growing up in an America in the 60s and 70s. She also fell into a crazy world of drugs and alcohol. So much was so easily available and, for Sigute, the ‘dragon’ of addiction took hold quickly. She perfectly describes a life mixed with the need to excel and the need to rebel. She really led a duel existence for most of her life. The perfect child, the perfect employee, the perfect mother, and another darker side, drug addict, alcoholic, liar. For years and years, until she finally hit a wall and changed her life.
“Tragic Magic” is quite a story. And within it is hidden the tragic loss of Sigute’s brother, who also had struggles of his own. His beautiful and haunting poetry is scattered throughout the play, bringing a deeper meaning to not only his short life but Sigute’s as well.
So, in the end, it is not just her story, but his too. Which is a lovely way to commemorate him, with her own magically changed life. And a lovely poignant way to complete this year’s Solofest, with triumph, forgiveness and release.
Sigute Miller is an accomplished actress, having performed many shows with the Echo Theater Company and Sacred Fools and twice winning best actress awards at international theater festivals. Her career spans 40 years, and she is a competetive swimmer and the Western Regional Director of the Lithuanian Scouts.