I grew up near Midland. Not in, but near enough. I have a lot of memories in Armadale’s sister city. If you grew up in the Hills or in the Swan region, you probably do too. It’s just that kind of place. Like something out of a Steven King novel about a strange small town in Maine, except it’s not Steven King, it’s a guy from Stratton named Dane with a side hustle selling mismatched rims. Everyone has a story or two from Midland. They’re usually either hilarious in an absurd way, or they’re a story about some close call with a guy in a “Tap Out” shirt near 7th Ave. Cameron McLaren did grow up in Midland, and boy, does he have some stories to tell.
To be honest, Midland – and the greater 6056 area – act as a spring board for McLaren’s yarns about personal experiences, with everything from schoolyard fights to first experiences with smoking meth. I went in expecting a show exploiting the rich trove of comedic and surreal aspects of Midland-the-town. McLaren took things in a different direction, delivering a show about Midland-the-experience (and it is an experience).
He’s a solid, experienced comedian (this is his fourth year performing 6056, it’s back by popular demand), who knows how to connect with a crowd. At about the halfway point of the show, one of the more inebriated audience members tipped back on his chair and broke it, creating a bit of a fracas. McLaren played it off without breaking out of the rhythm of the show. He also comes across as a personable, relaxed guy, and it’s for this reason that the format of the show tends to work. Usually.
6056 is worth seeing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s funny and often relatable, if you grew up in or around 6056. However, the more personal tone does sometimes interfere with the comedic timing of the show. There were some moments where the direction of McLaren’s monologue was unclear, leaving everybody a bit confused. The jump from the comedy of getting high on meth to the tragedy of meth addiction to a joke about the speed of cum (if you’re wondering, it’s 50 KM/H, and that’s why you can’t masturbate in school zones, McLaren says) can feel a little jarring and like there are still some rough edges to the format. Overall though, McLaren’s personality and skill as a performer tend to counteract the less polished aspects of the show. Was it sometimes over the top? Sure. But hey, so is Midland.
Having said all this, it was a good feeling to go into a Fringe show and see a local performer performing local content. There are enough Irish comics at Fringe as it is. Cameron McLaren loves 6056, the good and the bad. He’s seen some of its greatest hits. And he’s here to represent.
6056 is on at the Kalamunda Hotel on the 19th of January, and then runs for a few more weeks at The Basement at The Stables Bar. Tickets are $25 and you can get them here.
Rating: 3.5 Garden Hose Bongs out of 5
Words by Lachlan Serventy
Lachlan Serventy grew up in Kalamunda, meaning he’s spent most of his life judging 6056.
Image courtesy of FRINGE WORLD Festival.
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