Nuts in May

Mike Leigh

Lifestyle, Relationships
Mike Leigh


An early masterpiece from Mike Leigh, Nuts in May is a filmed-for-TV adaptation of an earlier stage play. The cast is small (only five characters who matter), but the acting is impeccable, and the mix of wicked humour and social observation make this one of Leigh's best works. Keith Pratt, a man who fully earns his surname due to his nit-picking obsessions with order and detail, takes his partner Candice-Marie, a well-meaning but irritating hippie, on a camping trip. There they meet Trevor, a shy teacher who finds their enforced friendship intrusive but is too polite to extricate himself, and a brash young couple of bikers, Honky and Finger, whose loud and chaotic personalities lead them into conflict with the repressed and dogmatic Keith. Plot isn't the issue here, since Leigh is far more interested in teasing out the subtleties of human behaviour, which he does with forensic skill in several unforgettable scenes. Funny and painful at the same time, like all Leigh's successes, Nuts in May is brilliantly acted by all concerned, though special mention must go to Roger Sloman, for bringing to life the appalling but ultimately pitiable Keith, and Alison Steadman, whose portrayal of fey, goofy and tragi-comic Candice-Marie is every bit as memorable and nuanced as her more famous turn as Beverley in Leigh's Abigail's Party. --Andy Medhurst