Nuts in May Film Details
Overview: A middle-class couple go camping in Dorset, but peace and quiet elude them.
Review: A new age couple go on a camping holiday where they visit several places of little interest. Their attitudes, however, lead to confrontations with other holiday-makers. This television film from Mike Leigh was part of the ‘Play for Today’ series that ran in the UK throughout the 70’s and into the 80’s. Leigh also contributed the brilliant Abigail’s Party for this format. Like that one, Nuts in May also features the great comic actress Alison Steadman. You would certainly be forgiven for not noticing this, however, as the character she plays here, Candice-Marie, could not literally be more different to the infamous Beverly from Abigail’s Party. Where the latter was overbearing and vulgar, Candice-Marie is a shrewish simpleton. It’s a testament to Alison Steadman’s skills as an actress that these two characters are so incredibly different. But Nuts in May is a more expansive production than Abigail’s Party in that it uses several outdoor locations and seems to be filmed like a movie proper, albeit a small-scale one. But that is one of the strengths of the production, because it feels so very real, and the humour always seems like genuine moments. It reminds me very much of the naturalistic, observations of the sitcom ‘The Office’, except, of course, that Ricky Gervais master-work was made quarter of a century later! One of the marvels of Nuts in May is it remains absolutely hilarious throughout, when you think how fast many British comedies date, this is rather an incredible achievement. Like ‘The Office’ though the strength of the production is in the writing, the performances and the realism. Aside from Alison Steadman there is a colossal comic performance from Roger Sloman as Keith Pratt. Keith is on a par with other British comic creations like Basil Fawlty and David Brent. He is a self-important man who has a barrow load of insecurities and contradictions. In other words he is a very human creation. And Keith and Candice-Marie are a brilliant pair of characters to base the film around. Where he is overbearing, anal and patronising, she is dim-witted; but much of the humour derives from moments where she passively-aggressively niggles Keith into action and into clashing with other people on the camp-site. The blind hypocrisy of the couple comes out in scenes where they demand a fellow camper Ray turn off his radio to prevent noise pollution but they think nothing of playing their ghastly folk tunes loudly all the time. Keith’s prejudices boil to the surface when this very right-on new age man loudly demands that a couple of Birmingham bikers get back to their tenements. Like so much, the reality that Candice-Marie and Keith believe in is a somewhat superficial one. Likewise, Keith’s approach to the holiday is drained of any spontaneity and enjoyment as he witlessly sticks to a schedule for no other reason than he wrote it and he goes on a guided tour without taking anything in, hurriedly walking from number to number. The film has several scenes that are ridiculously funny such as the ‘Zoo Song’ and the violent stick fight over the misuse of the country code. But the little details sprinkled throughout provide many moments just as funny. Who, for instance, could forget the Prudence the Cat? All-in all, Nuts in May is a genuine triumph. And one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I could re-watch this tomorrow and laugh myself silly again. One of the greatest comedies ever made.
Duration: 84 min
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Also known as: Nuts in May