‶Temple Tantrum″ A Perfect Performance in a Near Perfect Show….

By Ernest Kearney — Fear and the pain we deny are the cancers of the soul.

Having been raised in the Solid Rock Ministries, a right wing conservative Christian cult that publicly punished its disciples for offenses in the eyes of the community and would even take children away from their parents and give them to other members, Nicole Steinwedell knows something of both fear and pain.

“Temple Tantrum” Ext. Dates Added

Temple Tantrum, her one-woman show about that experience is a whirlwind of a ride that makes Hurricane Katrina seem like an asthmatic toot on a rusty kazoo.

Steinwedell – appropriately – begins at the beginning as she creates for her audience a child’s experience of being in a cult; the euphoria of being in an extended “family,” the anxiety to always please, the confusion at the irrational punishment.

Steinwedell tears around the stage as the child she once was, and throughout it all there is the reframe that will haunt her all her life: “Didn’t even hurt.”

Steinwedell takes on the story of her life, showing us a chillingly accurate picture of child abuse through the eyes of a child, witnessing her mother being beaten by her father, having her younger brother given to another family, finally leaving the cult, attending college, coming to Hollywood, failing at the industry’s politics, failing at love, failing at life all the while riding the echo of “Didn’t even hurt.”

The trouble is… it does hurt. Our pains repressed fester until all we are is that pain, just as the lies we live smother the truth.

Director Kimleigh Smith has done an exceptional job of guiding Steinwedell through the torrents of her pain and personal history into a performance that is as honest and intoxicating as her story is riveting. Smith wisely avoids one of the main faults I’ve seen time and again in solo shows at this Fringe, which is that the performer clutters the stage until every positive is buried beneath the unnecessary. Smith has nothing on her stage except a block and Steinwedell. That is more than enough.

The conclusion of the piece needs rethinking.

It suffers from a “rippling finale” that seems to drop the closing curtain six times. They need just to pick one and end the story there.

Considering the rivulets and rapids this story takes you down, that difficulty is understandable.

Still, Temple Tantrum was perhaps the best solo show I attended and is arguably the best directed.Platinum Medal

That Steinwedell’s performance was the best I saw at the HFF2019 is beyond question.



Temple Tantrum has been extended at


Extended Performances

Friday July 5 2019, 7:00 PM | 75 mins

Saturday July 6 2019, 6:00 PM | 75 mins

Friday July 19 2019, 7:00 PM | 75 mins

The Broadwater (Second Stage)

6320 Santa Monica Blvd.

For Updated Show Information: http://hff19.org/5906

For Events, Plays and Other Fun Fringe News and Info: www.hollywoodfringe.org

Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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