By Ernest Kearney — At the 2017 Hollywood Fringe Festival, The Girl Who Jumped Off the Hollywood Sign —written and performed by Joanne Hartstone— earned a number of honors, including the Tvolution Award for Best Solo Show (female,) and left no doubts about her acting “chops.”

In The Reichstag is Burning, one of the international “virtual performances” to participate in the 2021 Hollywood Fringe, Hartstone reveals herself as a solid entertainer with an appreciable set of pipes.

Due to COVID restrictions imposed by the Australian Government, The Reichstag is Burning was limited to one and only one performance before a live audience which they could film for inclusion in HFF21.

In other words, no second chances, no retakes, it was one shot only, like back in the Golden Age of Television again.

With that in mind, what Performer and Creator Hartstone and Director/Designer Tom Kitney accomplished with Reichstag is nothing short of amazing. I’m not talking jaw-dropping amazing here, I’m talking 300-pound fat guy belly flopping in a kiddy pool amazing!

Taking Bob Fosse’s film Cabaret as her starting point, Hartstone retells the fall of Germany under the rise of the Nazis as witnessed from the stage of a popular Kabarett performer.
But Hartstone also undertakes to carve those visions into a parallax view (*) displacing Berlin, August 1934 to Washington D.C., January 2021.

Applying dimmers and Gobos rotator from his switchboard palette Kitney creates a noir canvas for Hartstone that is as ingenious as it is elaborate.

The only weakness of the show, I found, was the music, though not Hartstone’s exceptional performance. However, her repertory was, mostly, covers of contemporary music.

Which is an unfortunate choice, as there are countless songs from the cabaret period that could serve this show well; Werner Finck Der brave Soldat schweigt (“The Good Soldier Shuts Up,” Raus mit den Männern (“Chuck Out the Men”) and many more.

Silver Medal (via The TVolution)

It’s possible the choice to use such familiar songs was a device to have audiences recognize how dangerously close we are today of seeing history repeated. Still, the musical selection was very repetitious.

Otherwise, lovely work —


You can see a repeat of the virtual performance:


* * *

Thursday September 16 2021, 8:30 PM | 70 mins
Pacific Time (US & Canada) virtual performance

For Tickets and Updated Information Go To:
Hollywood Fringe Festival


Learn More at

(* No not the 1974 thriller starring Warren Beatty)

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 and Follow him on Facebook.

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