Back at it again, the Imperfect Orchestra have joined forces with local filmmaker Katy Richardson to bring us Relic, a live performance of music, film and stills, celebrating the life of Dilys Richardson. Taking part in the I’ll Remember You! series hosted by Plymouth University and Peninsula Arts, Lecture Theatre One came alive with the memoirs of a life passed on June 18th.
Over a year in the making, Relic is a re-imagination of Katy’s grandmother’s life. Dilys Richardson was born in 1922, daughter to a cinema pianist and a tax clerk, but after her mother died, she was subsequently passed from family member to family member until her father remarried in 1932. From 1978, a few months after Katy was born, Dilys began keeping a journal and scrapbook of memories she wanted to remember and later share with her new grandchild. It was in the years following this joyous family occasion that Dilys unfortunately began developing dementia.
The orchestra, featuring members of previous performances such as Tamar, Home and Imperfect Orchestra Projects presents Texas Chainsaw Massacre, maintains their ‘imperfect’ DIY attitude, incorporating several guitars, a violin, a musical saw and a glockenspiel. However, this time, a grand piano sits majestically amongst the musicians and the lecture screens, its addition to the orchestra’s portfolio taking inspiration from Dilys’ mother, the cinema pianist.
The combination of Katy’s skilful archival edits and the Orchestra’s tense and compelling score paints a picture of an exuberant woman, who fell into a life of routine and eventually confusion. Dilys’ life is driven forward with Katy’s narration of the journal and actual family photographs as well as original and archival footage, creating a audio/visual scrapbook of memories. As the narrative continues, disorientating music and flashes of her past life add to the bewilderment she must have felt as her mind began to succumb to dementia.
There’s something about watching Relic that feels almost voyeuristic, like stumbling upon a secret diary that you feel you shouldn’t read. What Katy has created is an honest and loving memoir to her grandmother, an emotive and heartfelt display of sentimentality, routine, confusion, and most importantly, love.
It looks like Katy Richardson, the Imperfect Orchestra and Relic will be performing again soon so keep an eye out for it. It’s definitely not one to be missed.