Nelson Musical Theatre, 95 Atawhai Dr, The Wood, Nelson

24/10/2015 - 24/10/2015

Carterton Events Centre, Wairarapa

19/10/2015 - 19/10/2015

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

09/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

Prefab Hall, 14 Jessie Street (access also from Vivian St), Wellington

16/03/2015 - 21/03/2015

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

22/10/2015 - 23/10/2015

Kokomai Creative Festival

Nelson Arts Festival 2015

Capital E National Arts Festival

Tauranga Arts Festival 2015

Production Details

“Squaring the Wheel is pure junkyard genius” Sydney Festival 2014 

Australian performer Jens Altheimer presents The Hits season of Squaring the Wheel as part of the Capital E National Arts Festival 2015. Premiering for the first time in New Zealand on Saturday 14 March at 10am at Hannah Playhouse and on Saturday 21 March at 10am at Prefab Hall, is the story of a quirky character bringing junk house hold items to life in new and  unique inventions.

In this award-winning visual extravaganza – meets – science experiment, a frying pan becomes a friend, a broom plays music, and an egg takes a walk. Squaring the Wheel is a high energy combination of circus, clown, puppetry, music and magic, which proves that a little imagination can transform the simplest things into something sublime.

Festival Producer Melanie Hamilton says, “Winner of the Adelaide Fringe Award for Best Presentation for Children in 2013, Squaring the Wheel invites audiences to stay after the performance for an interactive demonstration of how the machines work. It’s a great time to get children inspired to make something of their own when they get home.”

Unpredictable, funny, touching, highly visual and occasionally out of control, it is a clever theatre adventure for the whole family in thinking out of the box.

Junior Week: 9 – 13 March 2015
Saturday 14 March at 10am

Senior Week: 16 – 20 March 2015
Saturday 21 March at 10am

To book tickets and view the full Festival programme visit www.capitale.org.nz 

Nelson Musical Theatre
Wed 14 Oct, 6pm
60 mins, no interval

Carterton Events Centre
Mon, Oct 19, 1pm & 6:30pm
Adult $32 / Child $15 / Adult Friend $29 / Child Friend $13.50 

X-Space, Baycourt
Thursday 22nd October, 05:00pm
Friday 23rd October, 01:00pm & 05:00pm
TICKETS Adults $20 Children $15
DURATION 60mins (no interval), with 20min post-show Q & A. 

Theatre , Puppetry , Musical , Clown , Circus , Children’s ,

Kids spellbound

Review by Vivienne Quinn 23rd Oct 2015

Jens Altheimer shines in this energetic and eccentric show, which combines elements of clown, puppetry, juggling and junk-yard gadgetry to create a show perfect for the younger audience.

It’s billed as an adult friendly family show for ages 5 plus, but the only adults who would really enjoy it are those bringing their kids along, and watching the spell-bound looks on their faces. The kids love it! It has all the intriguing mysteries of tricks and puzzles, and weird, crazy inventions.

My seven year-old is wide-eyed and open-mouthed for most of it. My nine year-old is more cynical: “I know how he did that,” she whispers. But other times, Altheimer fools us all with his own clever twists to a somewhat cliché routine. His set is intriguing, his sleights of hand are fast, yet, from my adult perspective, I don’t quite trust him.

He is obviously a skilled performer of the street-arts, yet … he’s not quite skilled enough. All jugglers drop things occasionally but I feel nervous for him. The stool he climbs doesn’t look well secured and sure enough, he falls over as he climbs, back down. The crazy machine he finally gets round to playing with almost works but it’s a little bit too rickety, a little bit too junk-yardy.

I don’t know, maybe I am too anxious for the performer – I want to it go well; I want him to hold the tension and then blow our socks off. Altheimer doesn’t quite get there. For all that, I’m not the target audience and, metaphorically speaking, most of the kids in the audience were well and truly barefoot by the end of it.


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Quirky, magical show amuses and delights

Review by Karin Melchior 21st Oct 2015

The theatre is humming with excitement and anticipation as we take our seats. There is no boring, chat-amongst-yourselves atmosphere while we wait for the show to begin here! The audience’s curiosity and imaginations have already been pricked by a stage brimming with a haphazard collection of bits and pieces, including various household items and a crazy contraption that looks like a real-life version of the Mouse Trap game. Upon further research, I discover it was invented by Rube Goldberg, whose quirky machines were the original inspiration for Jens Altheimer’s show!

From the moment his eccentric, hobo-like character is blown onto stage, with a wonderfully Chaplinesque battling the wind routine, the audience is transported into a magical and hilarious world of circus, clowning, puppetry and magic tricks.

With his physical theatre style, minimal dialogue, wonderful music and sound effects, the show has a distinctly European flavour, alluding to his German roots and training at the famous Lecoq school. Comedy is interspersed with pathos, in the best clowning tradition.

When I find myself feeling sadness at the prospect of his leaving his ‘friend’, who happens to be a frying pan stuck on a coat hanger with crackers for eyes, I know either he is very clever or I am ready for the loony bin. I prefer to go with the former and admire his skill at bringing inanimate objects to life and, with the increasingly ominous catch phrase, “easier”, his ability to turn the most simple things, such as putting on a hat, into extremely complicated procedures involving a variety of mechanisms and circus tricks, hence the title of the show.  

Jens handles his young audience brilliantly and has them eating out of his hand with a high energy performance and plenty of delightful interaction. He responds adeptly to the usual, sometimes awkward interruptions – there’s always one child of the “no it’s not!” variety – and they clamour to be picked to go up on stage.

Squaring the Wheel is a quirky, magical show to amuse and delight the whole family. 


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Inspiring children

Review by Lisa Allan 15th Oct 2015

Something I’ve always associated with physical theatre is simplicity. Putting space around moments and actions, choreographing each movement precisely, making the work clear, crisp and definable. Keeping it simple, not trying to do too much. Squaring the Wheel laughs in the face of this approach, the marketing material proudly asserts that the show will demonstrate “… how to complicate simple things…” How exciting! 

From the very first we enter a delightfully busy space. A mess of contraption pieces and other junkyard-esque bits and bobs clutter the stage. Reggae fills the air. Children chatter excitedly. Then the wind begins to blow and the cavalcade of clown, circus, puppetry, magic and technological routines begins.

Right from the start, Jens develops a lovely relationship with the children. He knows just how to elicit responses from them and takes very good care of his audience volunteer. He has the audience roaring with laughter, calling out hilarious things and even helping him to construct his final masterpiece.

For me, although the routines are well executed, playful and fabulous, there is just too much going on in this show. I am over stimulated. The set is a visual feast and then to have the series of routines rolling out one after the other, it feels like all of my Christmas presents for every Christmas that ever were had been heaped at my feet at once. Perhaps a show with half of this material, worked in a more refined way, would have be more effective artistically.

But I am a boring adult. I want order and clarity, I want to know where to look and what is going on at all times. This show isn’t made for me, it’s made for children and the hundred lucky young people who are at the show this morning will be trying to pull green balls out of their mouths (how DID he do that?) and invent their own wonderful contraptions; they will be trying to recreate the magic that they saw; their imaginations will have been sparked. Inspiring children is more important than simplicity.

So I’ll give you this one, Jens. But I’d also love to see other works of yours. I’d be interested to see what a man with as much talent as you have does when you don’t have all the bells and whistles along for the ride. I bet it’s just as magical as the show I saw today.


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Masterful clowning, circus skills and magic

Review by Jo Hodgson 14th Mar 2015

As the auditorium lights fade down on the excited chattering of a packed house of school children, their volume crescendos rather than quietens and merges with the opening storm soundscape.

In blows a lone character fighting with his inside-out Wellington style umbrella who – once he humorously tames the storm with excellent synchronized timing from the sound and lighting operator –  and begins his exploration of his surroundings which is a cross between a janitors cupboard and trash palace.  

Jens Altheimer is thoroughly engaging as he draws us in with his masterful clowning, circus skills and magic. He creates a charming world out of daily used household items and, in the immortal words of the Wombles,  ‘things that the everyday folk leave behind’.

My children (four and two) sit on either side of me big eyed, excitedly clutching my arms, laughing and murmuring ‘its magic Mum’ while this talented storyteller delights us through his exuberant physical theatre, accompanied by a brilliantly matched and evocative sound track. 

From the hilarious exchanges with inanimate objects trying to upstage him, to the endearing companionship with his frypan friend and the slap-stick humour which makes today’s young audience roar with laughter, this show certainly has something for everyone.

I particularly like the concept of his catch phrase ‘easier’, where, like the convoluted inventions of Rube Goldberg, he connects layer upon layer of gadgetry combined with great tricks and circus skill making something that looks anything but easy, to simply put on his hat.

On top of all the clever theatrics is the fantastical contraption of wires, pulleys and wheels which dominates the set and with the audiences help culminates in a mesmerizing chain reaction of rotating, looping and scooping balls through a series of ingenious mechanics.

This feel good and inventive piece of magical theatre will inspire many a budding creative mind, which bodes well for our future. 


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