Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)

Following a sold out run at The Kiln Theatre in 2023, this new British musical has transferred to The Criterion Theatre, bringing with it a wealth of fantastic songs, star power and spectacular design. Having fallen in love with this show last year I was excited to see how well it would transfer, and I am pleased to say it has not lost any of its intimate feeling and is a welcome addition to the West End.

Written by Jim Barne & Kit Buchan, this story is one of love, friendship and most importantly cake! Following two strangers; Dougal, a young British man on a journey to meet his estranged father for the first time in NYC and Robin, a woman struggling to find her place in the world as a born and bred New Yorker who has no time for this new British boy in her life as she runs errands for her sister’s wedding taking place the next day (this is where the cake comes in!). The story takes place over a whirlwind 36 hours as they live the dream of exploring the city with an unlimited budget (thanks to a ‘borrowed’ AMEX card!). They clash at first, but Dougal soon wins Robin over with his charm and silly antics.

This is a 2 hander performed perfectly by Sam Tutty as Dougal and Dujonna Gift as Robyn. Their chemistry on stage together is beautiful, each bringing the perfect energy to the stage and their ability to draw us into their world and the story unfolding before us is quite something. Sam is a delight as the awkward, clumsy, loveable Dougal.  He brings a boundless energy to the part along with some intense emotional authenticity when called for. Sam shows off an impressive vocal talent, especially in ‘New York’ which is performed with gusto! Dujonna is the perfect New Yorker, hard and cold on the outside but warm and vulnerable when you dig down deep enough. Dujonna is an impressive performer, taking my breath away multiple times throughout the evening, in particular ‘This Year’ elicits a very emotional response from the audience as Dujonna makes us feel seen and we can all relate to how the character feels at the time.

Writers Jim and Kit clearly have a huge love and respect for the Rom-Com genre, they revel in the tropes, stereotypes and cliché’s of a winters night in NYC where two unlikely people come together and share a journey of self-discovery. The characters are extraordinarily normal, there is nothing outstanding about them and this is what makes them perfect. They have lived their lives seeing Hollywood movies about love and life, and though they of course realise life isn’t like the movies, they both sort of dream it was. The songs in the show are all superb, this is a collection of earworms, with different genres on show from more upbeat jazzy numbers to large strong ballads. The lyrics are clever, funny and brave at times. This is a lesson in how to write a new musical and make it relevant.

Sourta Gilmour has designed a very clever set, made up of different sized suitcases ranging from normal size to 8+feet tall with hidden compartments and surprises throughout the set and each is a delight to see. What begins looking like a simple set actually becomes more and more complex and you realise the lengths that have been gone to, to bring this together.

This is the perfect show for any hopeless romantics out there, it’s a heart-warming story that will leave you wanting more. It is a wonderful example of new writing and maintains the high standard of British theatre.

This show was reviewed on the 23rd April 2024 at The Criterion Theatre, London where it runs until the 14th July 2024.  Tickets available here: Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) the Musical | Criterion Theatre London | Official UK Site (

Review written by Rosie Browne


Photo credit: Tristram Kenton & Brinkhoff-Moegenburg

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