The Tailor of Inverness (2016), Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Dogstar Theatre
Matthew Zajac (Writer/Artist Director), Ben Harrison (Director), Magdalena Kaleta (Polish voice), Ali Maclaurin (Set and costume design), Kai Fisher (Lighting design), Tim Reid (Video design), Timothy Brinkhurst (Sound design), Sholto Bruce/Andrew Wilson (Production Manager).
Matthew Zajac(Performer), Jonny Hardie (Violin).
Running time

Heritage and genealogy are prominent aspects of modern culture, reflecting a widespread desire for a personal sense of belonging. With the helping hand of sites such as, filling in that blank spot on your fragmented family tree has become far easier. However, if the ground literally moves under your feet, shifting countries' borders and ousting you from any place you may call home then how can this be catalogued by a few clicks on a website?

Artistic director, writer and sole performer Matthew Zajac has staged his quest to gain answers in this multi-award winning show.

Opening in a tailor’s workshop, we meet the enthusiastically nostalgic Mateusz Zajac, who regales us with colourful anecdotes from establishing a life in Inverness, before delving into his military past.

Following his tour across Europe, the Soviet Union, the Middle East and England, garment by garment, punch by punch, a journey familiar to any Polish WW2 soldier unfolds. Fortunately, Mateusz was forced into Scotland and along with his sewing machine he adjusted to a calmer life, becoming another stitch in the Highland seam. Through the eyes and ears of his son, Matthew Zajac, conflicting reports unravel, pinning a question mark to his father’s history, relationships and loyalties.

The profound nature of this piece is perfectly described by director Ben Harrison who highlights the metaphor of “a tailor stitching fabric and at the same time fabricating stories to clothe or mask his true identity”. During a time where boundaries were being claimed, shifted and fought over, knowing where your story began is almost impossible.

The universal nature of what appears to be one man’s tale is expertly portrayed through the innovative use of a few wartime garments, a pink scarf and a female mannequin. By engaging the audience’s eager imagination and inclination to hear someone else's story, Matthew Zajac is able to create an abundance of characters and situations with the simplest of tools.

Melodically driven, the aural intricacy of Jonny Hardie’s single violin adds the final flourishes to this impeccably constructed outfit.

Akin to removing a tacking stitch from a finished garment, the tale of Mateusz Zajac, one man like so many others, can now be fully appreciated and worn proudly.

Running until 11 Feb, 7.30pm.
Full Price: £16.50
Standard concession: £13.50
Other concessions: £8.50
Venue: Traverse 1
Age Recommendation: 12 +