Two Strangers Carry A Cake Across New York

Two Strangers Carry A Cake Across New York is another new British musical making big waves at the moment. After smaller runs at festivals for new musical theatre the show received a great reception at Kiln Theatre and made its transfer to the West End.

The show tells of Dougal, an enthusiastic British twentysomething who has come to New York for the wedding of his father, who he has never met before. Sent to pick him up is the sister of the Bride, dry witted New Yorker, Robin. Despite Robin’s protests Dougal soon join her on her errands, which includes picking up her sister’s wedding cake and ticking off numerous touristy items off his own agenda over the course of his 36 hours in New York.

The book by Kit Buchan and Jim Barne is fast paced and cleverly written. The story unfurls at a quick enough pace to keep you interested but equally leaves some revelations for the closing moments. The conversation is quick witted and is naturally written, so much so that the audience feel that they are a fly in the wall within some of the scenes. Whilst the book could easily fall into the sentimental category Buchan and Barne are self aware and reference films set in New York and what they would do in the movies….even maybe see a show.

This naturalistic writing really helps to draw the audience into the characters and this is only enhanced by the portrayal by Sam Tutty as Dougal and Dujonna Gift and Robin. Their characterisation perfectly contrasted against each other, Dougal an overenthusiastic Labrador (his words) and Robin, worldly wise and cognisant of the fact that living in New York on minimum wage is difficult. Tutty bounds across the stage and you can’t help but fall for his naivety and boundless optimism where as Gift breaks your heart with her resigned dejection with her own life. Despite the polar opposites in characterisation the two gel wonderfully on stage with the friendship crackling before the audiences eyes as they reel the audience in to their briefly intertwined worlds.

Buchan and Barne also wrote the music and lyrics and part of it’s beauty is its variety whilst maintaining a cohesive feel. There are more traditional musical theatre numbers such as New York! And Be Happy but there are also a crooner moment in ‘Under The Mistletoe’ and a patter song in the form of ‘The Hangover Duet. It is a EP that has already been streamed numerous times and after seeing the show I can understand why and would not be surprised if some of the songs become audition favourites, bursting with character and a joy to listen to.

Soutra Gilmour’s set is a masterpiece which works perfectly for the show, washed out shades of white and grey suitcases make up the set, peaking at two towers each side of the revolve which the cast traverse with ease. They open up to become tube seats, bins and beds and the space between them becomes empty streets and church aisles as the revolve itself whisks one performer away and another one into the foreground in a blink of an eye. The lighting design by Jack Knowles enhances this and not only does sound designer Tony Gale ensure that every word is crystal clear but that the soundscape exists before the show even begins with the sound of airplanes landing.

Two Strangers Carry A Cake Across New York is a brilliant addition to the British musical theatre scene, witty and warm, with 2 performers who simply ooze their characters.

Two Strangers Carry A Cake Across New York is on at the Criterion Theatre. You can find out more and book tickets on their website.

If you like this review you might also like my review of MJ The Musical, Hadestown and my thoughts on the Piano Works West End.

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