The Tailor of Inverness

One-man show The Tailor of Inverness first hit Edinburgh stages eight years ago and has been touring ever since. In the packed theatre it was obvious that it is still in demand. It is a solid piece of work, but it has never been altered to address its criticisms.

It's a cracking good yarn, told with plenty charm and wit, that covers an often forgotten part of the Second World War

Matthew Zajac plays his own father Mateusz, recounting the story of how he becoming a tailor in Inverness. Starting in Poland, Mateusz takes us on a journey through a war torn world and the hardships that he faced. It's a cracking good yarn, told with plenty charm and wit, that covers an often forgotten part of the Second World War – giving it plenty of breathing space and managing to show restraint in avoiding any jokes about the Siegfried Line, etc.

Matthew Zajac does well to jump between all the roles. Accompanied by a violin player to set the tone, there are plenty of great physical touches to the performance. The clothes in the shop are used in clever ways, filling up an empty stage with character. Matthew’s performance is outstanding. Having spent lot of time with the subject, his Scottish/Polish mixed accent is thoroughly authentic.

If the play ended here it would be a nice character piece with a little bit of quirk, but then comes a revelation that detracts from the play as much as it adds; bringing extra layers to the story and the character, but failing to give the play a coherent message. It becomes a sort of on stage version of Who Do You Think You Are?, with Matthew giving a surprisingly lacklustre performance as himself travelling Poland trying to uncover the truth. In a lot of ways I felt betrayed, which is clearly the intention.

This coda is tacked on and feels more of a catharsis than an attempt to make a coherent piece. The play isn't too badly affected by this but, if treated with the same care as the previous part, we'd be looking at a five star review.

Reviews by James W. Woe

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

Matthew Zajac’s stunning show has entranced over 26,000 people in 10 countries, most recently selling out for three weeks at New York’s Brits Off Broadway Festival in April 2015.

The Tailor of Inverness is an unforgettable and moving story of displacement and survival in war-torn Europe, a powerful allegory for all victims of war.

Winner of a Scotsman Fringe First, the 2008 Stage Best Solo Performer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe and the 2009 Best Actor Award from the Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS).