on 4 May 2013
Something has happened to television drama over the last twenty-five years, there's definitely been a dumbing down in the way productions are presented. Everything from soap operas to crime series and costume dramas, appear more and more, to be written to a formula, because, presumably this guarantees good ratings. Someone has obviously decided viewers like stories they can flop out on the sofa and watch for fifty minutes without having to think too hard, without developing a personal relationship with protagonists as layers are tantilizingly revealed over a period of time. So those of us who love to dive into contemporary productions that have depth and emotion and twists and turns, compelling us to keep watching while aching for that climactic conclusion, rarely get a feast as satisfying as "Mayday".
At a surface level, this is the story of the disappearance of beautiful, young Hattie Sutton, due to have been crowned May Queen as part of the local community's pagan parade. But right from the opening scenes, something feels strange, eerie, reminiscent perhaps of those spooky dramas from the 70s, "The Wicker Man" or those bizarre "Thriller" episodes where creepy things happen in remote villages made up of people who share a very limited gene pool. In other ways, it's a very contemporary setting and the contrast between these two elements becomes intriguing, like a community operating on two different levels. Brilliant direction, camera work and score all contribute to this sense of something faintly supernatural, but it's cleverly done, so that we always have one foot very much in the reality of these people's lives. Like all good thrillers, the suspense is emerging largely from the paranoid corners of our own minds, and that's what makes it so personal, we're investing something of ourselves in these characters and their own personal stories.
The wonderful direction (Brian Welsh) is equally matched by great casting, with many exceptional performances, including Tom Fisher, as Seth, the reclusive, druid-like character who lives in the woods, and Sam Spruell, as Steve, his somewhat ambivalent carer and brother, and self-appointed leader of the search party looking for Hattie. Lesley Manville, delivers a powerful portrayal of Gail Spicer which takes us through a whole journey of complex emotions, and young actors Leila Mimmack and Max Fowler are remarkably compelling as indie-goth-chick Caitlin and Linus, the loner boy next door, who oozes kudos and from the outset seems wise beyond his years. All give award worthy performances. Acting is at its best, I always think, when a peformer can tap into some aspect of a dark character's psyche which the audience will connect with and feel some level of empathy for, and this is achieved in abundance, by the cast of "Mayday". Each character has a shadow side which leaves us slightly suspicious of them and what they might be capable of, but we also develop compassion for them along the way, as their vulnerable side becomes gradually revealed to us.
The story reaches a thrilling conclusion, which has us guessing right up to the end, and there is the smallest chink of light through a crack in the door, which has the potential to lead to a second series many will be hoping for, because "Mayday" is such a beautifully produced, genuinely original drama.
on 2 June 2013
With all the fuss about "Broadchurch", this little gem was generally overlooked. That's a crying shame because it's a cracker of a story, lots of marvellous little twists (including one towards the end that I defy anyone to have seen coming) and some brilliant performances. The little touches of ghostly fantasy are the icing on the cake for me, but I can see they wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea- if they're not for you, they don't get in the way of the plot in the slightest.
If you didn't catch it first time round, it's well worth a look.
This has been a wonderful production. The story is of a small community that forms a vigilante search for missing pretty 14 year old Hattie, the appointed May Queen, the foundation for the cracks revealing an insecure and secretive society. The characters are unravelled in a way that they all have motives and sinister backgrounds. The personalities involved are rolled out superbly by the writers. Who has done what to whom and why is a captive reason to follow this serial.
It was made clear from the start that there would be a supernatural element. This should not be disarming as the chinks in the episodes add together in the end. The cast are exemplary. So many red herrings are thrown in pointing one after another to culpable suspects and motives.
The communal spirit once united becomes divisive, causing splits both between and within families, keeping the viewers on the edge of their seats. The surprises mount up. The finale is the completion of a puzzle with enough to allow viewers to add their own interpretation given the background and activities of the cast characters. Thanks to the BBC and team for putting this on a nightly basis to keep the momentum and suspense rolling. Excellent, enjoyable and memorable.
Box comes with cast interviews.
on 10 April 2015
My favourite suspense serial for many years, thanks partly to the unusual format of broadcasting the whole thing over five consecutive nights, thereby avoiding the usual breaks in the suspense when weekly intervals are used. I would like to see more of this particular format used.serials. My criticism of Mayday is that too many loose threads were left hanging. What happened about the killing of Seth is a particular annoyance. however, I accept this as just part of a fairly baffling mystery, which was plainly intended to leave viewers guessing.
on 28 August 2013
very good story,,kept you guessing through out but the ending was,,,,,,i didn't see that coming. hope they make number 2
on 8 June 2013
A marvelous TV production that harks back to some of the excellent tv mystery shows of the 70s - impressive acting, especially from the younger actors, maintained the discomfort till the end - kept the family engrossed and debating, which is what great television should be about - an inspired soundtrack and the unique directing made for a wonderful viewing experience - some more please.
on 4 March 2014
This revolves around events in an English village gripped in the drama of a missing young girl. It has a good setting, is clear and easy to follow, and the quality of the recording is good.
However, for me, the programme had a surreal feel to it and I had difficulty engaging in the series. Most of the characterisation is superficial and, with few exceptions, everyone seems to be either a fruitcake or neurotic. I found no one with whom I could gain any empathy. The acting style is over the top, full of meaningful looks and pregnant pauses. The lack of normalcy robs the dramatic highlights of their impact.
The storyline is unconvincing. For example, to mention just one factor... the missing girl, who is only fourteen, is supposed to have virtually single handed, prevented a multi million pound housing development. Yeah?
The so called `secrets' have a sense of being contrived and lack subtlety.
The direction tends towards the sloppy. An example - two characters tramping confidently through the woods in the dead of night, without torches? Forests at night are pitch black! It goes on....
The plot itself has more holes than gorgonzola!
Some reviews rave about Mayday, so it must appeal to many. I persevered to the end, but beware, this is not a class production. Be prepared to suspend disbelief, and take it with more than a tablespoon of salt!