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.