Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre Review: A Warm Hug of a Musical

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)
Criterion Theatre

Buckle up, because Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre is a rollercoaster of heartwarming goodness that’ll make you want to hug strangers on the tube home (maybe not advisable, but you get the vibe). The show, a recent transfer from the kiln Theatre is musical theatre romcom you've been waiting, like the best early 2000s rom-coms, but on stage, and with live-action vibes that'll have you grinning from ear to ear- it needs to be on your radar.

The story follows two total strangers, Robin and Dougal, who, by a twist of fate, find themselves on a wild journey through the bustling streets of New York City. Cue the quirky meet-cute, the awkward yet endearing conversations, and a whole lot of unexpected adventure. But what really sets this show apart is its knack for capturing the essence of the Big Apple. You'll feel like you're right there in the heart of NYC, dodging taxis and soaking in the neon lights.

Relentlessly optimistic Dougal heads across the pond to attend his father's wedding, and also to actually meet him for the first time. At the airport he's greeted by Robin, the bride's sister, who's job is to pick him up and then leave him be for the rest of the trip. Of course, that's not the case and the pair end up drawn to one another as they discover and rediscover the city, all whilst finding out about one another. It's as heartwarming as could be and is really just a hug of a musical.

The leading pair are like a perfect slice of New York pizza—full of flavour and impossible to resist. Their chemistry is off the charts, and you'll find yourself rooting for them every step of the way. As Robin, Dujonna Gift gives a brilliant performance, full of stereotypical New Yorker cynicism, but like us all, is soon charmed by her new British acquaintance Dougal. Her comedic timing is wonderful and she really draws us into her world and inner turmoil. In the role of the NYC Newbie, Sam Tutty is the embodiment of charismatic. His performance is hilariously funny and the undercurrent of deeper, darker emotions are wonderfully contrasted. A master of nuanced facial expressions that tell a thousand emotions, and vocals that soar and shine- Sam gives a top grade performance. The pair are perfectly matched and create some absolute theatrical magic on stage.

Aside from the story of the two characters altering each other's lives, this musical is, in every sense of the saying, a love letter to New York. Soutra Gilmour's design turns a revolving set of suitcases into a bustling city, where anything can happen and Tony Gayle's sound design highlights the ever present noise of Manhattan. Of course it's a romcom rose-coloured view, but there is some commentary on New York's darker side which helps ground the piece.

Musically, this show is like a playlist straight out of your favourite indie film, that's been musical theatre-ified. A mixture of styles create a soundtrack that feels genuinely unique and truly fun, setting the perfect mood for every scene. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll probably leave the theatre humming a catchy tune or two. The opening number, New York! is especially joyous and really sums up the show with humour, sincerity, awe, joy and a little bit of tension.

But perhaps the real star of the show is the script. It's sharp, it's witty, and packed with enough heart to fill Times Square. You'll find yourself laughing out loud multiple times and swooning at not only the characters, but the city on stage. Jim Barne's and Kit Buchan's writing is wonderfully fast paced and the characterisation of each lead is so strong. You almost forget you're watching a two person show when such a rich tapestry of a world is created.

In short, Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) is a delightful romp through the city that never sleeps. It's charming, it's heartwarming, and it's everything you could want in a night out at the theatre. I loved the way it joyously celebrates the 'normal' people and reminds us that even the smallest of meetings, can change our lives. So grab your metro (Oyster) card and get ready for a ride—you won't regret it.

Reviewed on Tuesday 23rd April 2024 by Olivia
Photo Credit: Marc Brenner

{AD PR Invite- tickets gifted in exchange for honest review}


  1. Great review Olivia. Really captured this beautiful, funny, heartwarming, original Rom-Com musical.

    I also attended the press night. Review below.