The disappearance of a May Queen reveals a communities dark secrets!
When 15-year old May Queen Hattie Sutton goes missing in the woods on her way to the Mayday parade, the village is shook by who could have taken her or even worse – killed her. Everyone’s a suspect as the tight-knit community is surrounded by suspicion as friends and relatives see unusual behaviour at every turn and start to question if their loved ones had any involvement and could be capable of murder.
Don’t be fooled by the premise though; this is no cop procedural. In fact, police presence is kept to a minimum and instead the focus lies of the relationship between the families, the community and the facades people use to appear as if everything is okay.
An all-star cast helps bring the eerie drama to life; starring Peter Firth as property developer Malcolm Spicer and Lesley Manville as his overwrought, suspicious wife Gail, who carries off her characters conflicting emotions with aplomb when it dawns on her that her marriage has not only been crumbling for many years, but that her husband has hidden many secrets and blames young Hattie’s protests against the build of the new development for his business failing.
Sam Spruell plays the self-appointed leader of the search party, Steve Docker who has his own motives for helping, while his brother Seth believes in all things Pagan and likes to steal the odd trinket when ‘bad Seth takes over’. His mental health problems and his liking for the woods makes him an obvious suspect and target of the local community.
And then there’s police officer Alan, who returns home from work splattered with blood on his clothes but puts it down to an altercation with someone he arrested at work. His wife and former WPC, Fiona (the brilliant Sophie Okenedo) smells a rat though and deploys all her natural detective instincts to unearth the truth.
The best performance comes from young actor Max Fowler as Linus, who lives with his tempestuous father Everett, in a role reversal of teenager / parent due to Everett’s lack of father skills, who spends his days drinking and on the Xbox. Linus has a tough time of it – ranging from avoiding the bullies (including his dad), being pimped out by the local paedophile and trying his best to support Hattie’s emo twin Caitlin, who blames herself for her sister’s disappearance after she ignored a phone call from her on the day she went missing. And if that wasn’t enough, Linus witnesses his dad stash away a hefty (body sized) bag, which he’s prepared to violently protect to keep its contents secret.
Initially the BBC five-parter seems well conceived and full of questioning gazes that it makes the whodunit harder to decipher. But the weaving of the story from writers, Ben Court and Caroline Ip comes undone as we near the end as several questions go unanswered and the motives underwhelming. The finale (which I won’t spoil) sees the police en-route to make an arrest, sirens blaring; I doubt very many criminals get caught when they’re given such a blatantly loud and timely warning. The music will either serve to draw you in, or get on your nerves with its incessant presence during ‘tense’ moments.
The DVD extras are on the light side, only providing a ‘Making Of Mayday’ featurette, including cast and crew interviews including Director Brian Welsh. Unfortunately no Peter Firth or Aidan Gillen though. However, the cast filmograghies are nothing a simple Google or imdb search couldn’t tell you.
A different intriguing take on a much repeated kidnap / murder premise, let down by the ending and too much focus on Pagan rituals without making them believable enough. However the characters stories unfolding and superb performances by the cast, make the ride enjoyable enough to keep you coming back to the successive episodes.
Buy Mayday now exclusively from Acorn DVD; not available anywhere else to buy until April 8th 2013.