Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) ★★★★★ Criterion Theatre | Apr 4 - Aug 31, 2024


She's a rather cynical, world weary New Yorker. He's a naïve, overly enthusiastic Brit. They are brought together by his father's wedding to her sister, and they have nothing in common except the capacity for some extremely amusing barbs and banter. We all know how this is going to end, but the fun is in the emotional journey and its satisfyingly comfortable conclusion. Not surprisingly, it turns out that his relentless optimism and her wary skepticism both mask disappointments and losses which they will come to terms with as they carry their shared burden across the Big Apple and come to know each other. This is a delightful two-hander that is intended as a romcom for millennials, but like all representatives of the genre it ultimately depends on the chemistry of its principals. Both Sam Tutty as Dougal and Dujonna Gift as Robin bring their A-game to these performances. They are immediately likeable, and we are instantly rooting for them. Tutty exudes a puppy-like charm and energy. His moves are slick and his voice in a song like "Dad" is compelling. Gift is sharp without being off-putting, and she brings a sweetly plaintive quality to her solo "What'll It Be?" Her interpretation of "Be Happy" and "He Doesn't Exist" are quite exceptional moments. The many clever duets work well, and "Under the Mistletoe" is a wonderfully wacky tune. You may never hear Xmas songs in quite the same way again! If we have any quibble with the show, it is around the rather truncated revelation of Robin's falling out with her family, and Dougal's processing of that information. This complex dramatic point seems rather under-addressed and almost too facilely resolved. Nevertheless, Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York) is an extremely entertaining iteration of the ageless genre that never fails to please, and in this instance, its two stars put in absolutely luminous performances.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by J.C.
Photo by Tristram Kenton

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