For over 45 years the Committee and Players at Taibach Rugby club have been writing, producing, directing and acting in their own adults-only Panto every year.
With that kind of experience, I was sure that every effort would be made to made sure the show was well presented. Nevertheless, it was with some apprehension that I accepted an invite to go and see the show. Its reputation had gone before it and while I was aware that it was a legendary and iconic part of local tradition I was not sure quite what to expect, having never attended an ‘adult panto’ before.
Some of the older club members have been regular cast members for years, working their way up from the chorus to more prominent character roles. This year’s show was ‘Jack and the Giant Cactus’, written and directed by Colin Deere, Mark Miles and Aled Humphreys, who even managed to find time to get on stage and put in some performances themselves and the work and effort that had gone into it was obvious to see.
There were some aspects of the performance that were positively Shakespearian, not least the all-male cast, which made it easy for them to follow the Panto tradition of putting plenty of performers in drag.
As you would expect from an adult show there was plenty of bawdy humour. Smutty jokes and good old fashioned jokes and fun went down well with the audience, where the alcohol was flowing and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and getting well lubricated.
A special mention goes to Andrew Roche, who played the lead role of Jack and was a surprisingly good singer, and Craig Harding who played Bart the Bar Tender, who managed to narrate enough to keep the audience up to speed with the plot while also maintaining an amusing American accent for the whole of the performance (which I assume was no easy feat). Well done to both of them.
I particularly enjoyed Peter Sexton’s take on Jack’s mum, as a cross between a traditional pantomime dame and Mrs Brown from Mrs Browns Boys and Mark Thomas’s performance, who in playing Gladys proved he had a decent pair of legs on him.
The best costumes of the evening were sported by Huw Williams as Des/Desrae and John Newman as the Sheriff who outfits stole the show entirely.
The bad guys, Jesse and James Giant, were played by John Paget and Trevor Latham who put in a menacing turn. The old prospectors, Harpo and Goose, played by Steve Williams and Paul Derrick, deserve a mention due to an injury during rehearsals which left Paul with a large scar and stitches for the performances and proved that as the old adage goes ‘the show must go on’.
All in all, I had a hilarious and fun packed evening that took me back to childhood visits to panto, albeit with a far more adult edge. I would whole-heartedly recommend anyone with an open mind and a sense of fun to try to make the effort to see this main-stay of local Port Talbot Christmas tradition. Well worthy of its reputation, its sure to be a mainstay of Port Talbot tradition that will live on for many years to come.