Stuart King


Piccadilly Circus was a-buzz last evening as the crowds gathered for the much anticipated opening of TWO STRANGERS (CARRY A CAKE ACROSS NEW YORK) at the Criterion Theatre. This reviewer was unable to see the earlier staging at the Kiln in Kilburn, North London back in November last year. Thankfully the positive buzz around the show, helped secure this transfer, affording theatregoers another opportunity to catch it in the West End. So, what is it about and is it worth seeing?

Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) Sam Tutty and Dujonna Gift in Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) at the Criterion Theatre.

A naively optimistic, young Brit Dougal (Sam Tutty) travels to New York for the wedding of the father he has never known. Waiting at arrivals, is Robin (Dujonna Gift) the much put-upon younger sister of the Bride-to-be, who has been tasked with meeting him and a multitude of other duties, but clearly isn’t considered appropriate guest material for the celebrations themselves.

From the outset, the show benefits enormously from the rapid-fire and utterly charming banter exchanges between the two cast members. Dougal, the loveably enthusiastic fish-out-water Brit on his first wide-eyed visit to NYC, is instantly endearing and funny. Acting as a counterpoint, the weary and underachieving Robin initially resents and resists the child-minding duties, but gradually develops a playful rapport with her naive companion as they begin to accept and learn from one another.

At key moments in the plotline, dialogue exchanges transition into jaunty songs (there are 16 in total) from writers Jim Barne and Kit Buchan. Whilst there may not be any obviously stand-out numbers, each manages to be lyrically playful and collectively they provide the performers with moments to dazzle vocally, supported by a 4-piece onstage outfit. Souter Gilmour’s set amounts to little more than two stacks of suitcases centre stage, encircled by an outside revolve. This simplicity enables the performers to add physical pace where necessary to convey director/choreographer Tim Jackson’s vision for the storyline, and remain static at other moments.

The endearing charm inherent in the characters (as realised by the now bedded-in and wholly familiar cast members) adds oodles of oomph to a sweet show and the strongest reason to go see this well-deserved addition to the West End’s current productions.