The Tailor of Inverness – Krawiec z Inverness [FringeTIX]
Dogstar Theatre @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)
11:00am, Mon 2 Mar 2009
The Tailor of Inverness is writer / performer Matthew Zajac’s examination of his father’s life and, in turn, a deeper tale of post-war migration throughout Europe after the Second World War. The first act revolves around Matthew’s father, Mateusz, telling his own story – born and raised in Poland (in a village that, post-war, fell under Russian rule), he traveled through Europe and North Africa as part of whatever army he found himself in, eventually settling in Inverness and raising his own family. Throughout, there’s lots of gorgeous little theatrical touches – his countryman, Uri, dying in his arms, Zajac emulating his beating heart. There’s a fantastic sequence where Mateusz rides the trains through Europe, swinging a clothesline around to generate a tremendous feeling of movement and excitement… it’s riveting stuff.
The second act focuses on Matthew’s own attempts to discover more about his father, stemming from his need to reconcile the Polish, Russian, and German affiliations he’d discovered. The accelerated pacing of this act, as Matthew travels to his father’s old hometown, discovering a plethora of secrets that remained unknown to him, and the subsequent attempts to track down his half-sister, makes for all the feeling of watching a chase – in the cold light of day, it seems like pretty sedate stuff, but Zajac makes it edge-of-your-seat exciting.
Throughout, Zajac is superb – effortlessly slipping between languages, accents, and mannerisms of father and son (and any other characters). He’s supported by Gavin Marwick, providing live musical textures, and a comprehensive lighting display, including a series of projected slideshows, animations, and subtitles.
Even if the performance had ceased after the first act, I’d have been a happy man; that the second act occurred at all – and in fact was more compelling than the first – was a thrilling surprise. Absolutely fantastic theatre.