Belfast Telegraph

Father's journey through conflict

By Grania McFadden

What did you do during the war, daddy?

The answer to Matthew Zajac's question takes him across Europe, from Scotland to a farm in Galicia (once eastern Poland, now western Ukraine). The tailor of the title is his father, Mateusz Zajac, and his story – written and performed by Matthew, is that of a soldier on the eastern front.

We first meet Zajac in his workshop, happily recalling his arrival in the highlands of Scotland. His story is interrupted by flashbacks to his past as a young man.

His journey through the conflict takes him to a collective in Uzbekistan as a prisoner of the Soviet Army; to Tehran, Egypt, North Africa, Italy, and finally to Inverness having fought for both Russians and Germans.

Johnny Hardie's haunting violin accompaniment provides dramatic emphasis to Zajac's compelling performance, which uses song and dance to recreate his father's life.

Drama becomes documentary as Matthew recounts his journey to Ukraine to find out more and add another twist to the story of a man with many homelands.

Three stars

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