Photos – Ian Sutherland

Girls with Altitude is an apt name for this joyous, feminist circus show featuring girls 12–18 years old from the Flying Fruit Fly Circus.  

These are performers well on their way to professional careers and this production shows off their varied skills to great effect.  

Woman with Altitude was the comic that launched the career of Australian illustrator Judy Horacek. Here Horacek’s cartoons and drawings loom large and, through scrims and projections, integrate seamlessly with the circus skills. While a playfulness punctuates the visuals (they are cartoons, after all), there’s also a wry sarcasm and wit that well-matches the physicality on display.   

An underwater scene has an aerialist in flippers and goggles slowly swimming mid-air amidst Horacek’s drawings of fish and the ocean. This is just one of many settings – outer space, flying through the sky – that creates magical visual scenarios.  

Director Anni Davey has brought out the best in everyone within an impressive range of high-level acts including teeterboard, trampoline wall, German wheel and static trapeze. There’s a lot of gear in this show! 

Girls with Altitude is first and foremost an ensemble, rather than a solo showcase and fun numbers like a hat-based group juggling/manipulation routine highlights the various personalities and maturities in the mix.  

Performers come out to a set of microphones and read the captions of projected cartoons. Other times, they are part of highly complex physical acrobatic routines where so much is going on at once, that it’s nearly impossible to keep on top of watching it all.

But what really makes this show pop is the consistently strong relationship between the human physicality and the drawings writ large. It’s a simple concept so well-realised that it remains both consistent (in intent) and varied (in content of Horacek’s works) throughout the entire 70-minute running time. It flows from go to woe with virtually no lags.  

With colourful variations of bike shorts and sports tops that look like what superheros would wear if they did aerobics, April Dawson’s costumes have a comfortable, uniting vibe that suit the girl power ethos. 

Throughout Girls with Altitude, environmental and feminist messages make their mark, but it’s not overly didactic. The emphasis is joyful movement, celebration of the self and fulfilling dreams.   

And boy is it fun – for adults and children alike. Families abounded in the Saturday night audience and parents enjoyed it in equal measure with the young ones.  

This is no dumbed-down kids show. 

Blink and you missed it, though. The run at Art Centre Melbourne was only two days long and came at the end of a huge tour. (No wonder the show was so well-work in!) 

Here’s hoping the Fruities visit Melbourne more often!

Event details

Flying Fruit Fly Circus 
Girls with Altitude

Director Anni Davey

Venue: Playhouse, Arts Centre Melbourne | VIC
Dates: 16 – 17 September 2022


Most read Melbourne reviews

  • The Choir of Man
    This is a really well put together production, a great night out and so incredibly worthy of the success its found in venues around the world.
  • Smash It | Circus Oz
    This kooky show is intergenerational mayhem at its finest, with cast members representing millennial, Gen Zs, Baby Boomers and everything in between.
  • Groundhog Day The Musical
    This is more than just a screen to stage relocation, this a heartfelt re-examination seeking, discovering and transposing essence.
  • Hamlet | Sheoak Productions
    How do you make Shakespeare’s traitorous drama Hamlet, funny?
  • Luzia | Cirque du Soleil
    Luzia is a jumble of imagery all wrapped up in spectacular environments that include a vertical waterfall raining down like a tapestry on a loom and a plunge pool for an aerialist to thrash in and out of.

More from this author