Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) is set to become the best new British musical, especially for the holiday season. Bringing together everything we love in Hallmark movies, with powerful and memorable songs, this is a musical that you just can't miss! Written by the duo Jim Barne and Kit Buchan and directed by Tim Jackson, the musical revolves around the hopeful and romantic Dougal (Sam Tutty) and realist Robin (Dujonna Gift) as they encounter one another in New York. Connected by an impending marriage between Dougal's father and Robin's sister, the two must confront their secrets, pasts, uncomfortable truths and rising conflicts together in 36 hours.
Led by the talented leads, Olivier award winner Sam Tutty (Dear Evan Hansen) and Dujonna Gift (Hamilton), the two have an undeniable chemistry on stage, which seeps into the story and their characters. Their finessing of the two characters creates two well rounded and distinctively layered characters who are a delight to watch. Sprinkled with pop culture references from Dougal, the musical pays homage to the greatest films of the generation, and utilises beloved tropes extremely well. The musical entices the audience immediately with some particularly clever sound design (Tony Gayle) in using radio to communicate character interests, and then providing us with the expected "meet-cute". With the endearingly misplaced Dougal and the no nonsense Robin as the leads, the show delivers on a beautiful love story, with complete character arcs.
The staging is exquisitely designed by Soutra Gilmour, with white suitcases stacked upon each other, forming two mountains. The suitcases also double as the furniture and props, with beds, cupboards and a fridge hidden within. These suitcase structures also light up during songs, providing a splash of colour to compliment these numbers. Utilising a turn table, there is an excellent montage "American Express", and we follow the characters on their journey. The lighting is brilliant (Jack Knowles), with it adjusting both in colour and warmth according to the character's presences on stage. Dougal often inspires a mix of colours, particularly when singing, whilst Robin tends to command harsh whites. Sound design is also strong, particularly during high tension moments, with the precise use of drum, it connects the audience to feel the same way as the characters.
The songs themselves are wonderful, and shine in the piece. From the very first number "New York!", the songs captivate the audiences. With well-timed rhythms, the lyrics are all of incredibly high standard, and will doubtlessly leave you reeling from the magic that occurs in these songs. The songs complement the characters well, and we are given a wide variety of genres. Despite having elements of a traditional romantic comedy, and managing to defy most expectations, with plot twists occurring frequently and becoming an emotional rollercoaster that really connects with the audience. Stripping away the romantic sheen of cinematic New York, the musical plays brilliantly for British audiences.
The show comes to a close with a visual masterpiece, with the two leads having overcome their hurdles and emerging victorious. With a snowy hurricane, and a tear inducing throwback to an earlier moment, this show is perfect for the festive season and I would highly recommend not missing this brilliant new musical. Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) is playing at Kiln Theatre until the 20th of January.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Marc Brenner