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  • Writer's pictureSarah

Review of The Tailor of Inverness at the Finborough Theatre, London

Written and performed by the mesmerising Matthew Zajac in this small pub theatre, the unravelling of the stories kept the audience enthralled in this one man play, accompanied by a violinist (Jonny Hardie).

Zajac plays himself as a child, adult, and his father at all ages as he unpicks the stories to find where the real truth lies, and who exactly was the Tailor of Inverness. This is accompanied by Hardie on the violin and a projected woman's voice (Magdalena Kaleta).

When Zajac plays his father, the accent is brilliant, it is English-Polish but with a smattering of Scottish, aye.

The clever backdrop made of clothes with a clothes rail with jackets on in front
The clever backdrop made of clothes

The clever backcloth is made up of clothes, which are spotlighted at key points in the play. The girl's dress has particular significance. Interactive maps are projected onto this as Zajac shows his father's journey to Scotland. These help illuminate the history of WW2, as the journey moves with the battle lines, and the changing national boundaries, after his father joins the Polish army at the start of the war.

A man sitting on a tailors workbench
Dogstar Theatre, The Tailor of Inverness photo credit Tim Morozzo

But there are many discrepancies in his father's stories which the rail of clothes in the tailor's shop are used to illustrate. Did his father fight in Egypt? Did his father join the Allies in Italy? Did his father fight for the Nazi's? Did his father fight for the Russians? And ultimately, was his father hiding a Jewish identity in order to survive?

Zajac's acting gets very physical, the clothes rail is used to great effect to demonstrate speed of travel and momentum. I have to say that sitting in the front row we hoped that he kept a tight grip on it!

The story takes many twists with each bit of knowledge gained, and ends with a warm glow, as Zajac discovers a branch of the family that his father and his Scottish mother had never talked about. Their photos are projected onto the backdrop, and we had a happy ending.

This works brilliantly in this intimate theatre, and should be on your 'must see' list.

The Tailor of Inverness is part of the Finborough’s Theatre’s #VoicesFromUkraine, a programming strand set up in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  It's running until 8th June.

Written and performed by Matthew Zajac

Directed by Ben Harrison

Design by Ali Maclaurin

Lighting by Kai Fischer

Music by Jonny Hardie and Gavin Marwick

Sound by Timothy Brinkhurst

Presented by Dogstar Theatre Company in association with Neil McPherson for the Finborough Theatre

Performed by Matthew Zajac and violinist Jonny Hardie

Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED

Nearest tube and rail: West Brompton

Box Office 020 7244 7439.

Tickets £23, £20 concessions, except Tuesday evenings £20 all seats, and Friday and Saturday evenings £23 all seats.

Group Bookings for all performances – 1 free ticket in every 10 purchased.

Performance Length: Approximately 80 minutes.


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