Two Strangers: Critics rave about new millennial rom com musical

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Published: 4/24/2024 2:35:07 PM
Sam Tutty and Dujonna Gift hope the show will attract more young people to the theatre

Sam Tutty and Dujonna Gift hope the show will attract more young people to the theatre

From Richard Curtis classics to the so-bad-they're-good movies, the world is not short of romantic comedies.


Despite this, a new rom com musical about two twentysomething strangers meeting ahead of a wedding has impressed critics.

Two Strangers (Carry A Cake Across New York) sees optimistic brit Dougal (Sam Tutty) arrive in the city for his absent father's second wedding. At the airport he is met by native New Yorker and sister of the bride, Robin (Dujonna Gift).

With wedding bells ringing in the distance and the glitz and glamour of the big apple all around them, it's not hard to guess what happens during Dougal's 36-hour whirlwind trip, but it isn't as plain sailing as you might imagine.

In a five-star review, Theatre Weekly's Greg Stewart said the play "cleverly steers its narrative away from the traditional rom-com structure and instead gives us an immensely touching story of how two people who have never met can have a profound impact on each other".

'We don't have it all figured out'

Speaking to the BBC on opening night, Gift and Tutty, both aged 26, said they relate to their characters to the point that "sometimes it doesn't even feel like we are acting".

"Just like our characters, we don't have it all figured out and I think I am similar to Dougal in the sense that I can sometimes use optimism to hide my true feelings, which is a very British thing to do," said Tutty who plays a bouncy Brit who, despite never having been to New York, feels like he knows the city after watching Home Alone 2 and Ghostbusters.

Sam Tutty says his character is incredibly similar to him

Time Out's Caroline McGinn awarded the show four star and particularly praised Tutty, who won an Olivier in 2020 for Dear Evan Hansen.

"He brings the sweetness and floppiness of early career Hugh Grant, but relies less on cringey posh diffidence and more on a sweet theatricality," she wrote.

The show touches on themes that young people may find particularly relatable - from terrible Tinder dates to having an existential crises about what it means to be happy.

"I really hope young people come and see this show because it is so important and it really can change someone's life," explained Gift, whose character Robin is a jaded barista who is at the mercy of her Bridezilla older sister Melissa.

Asked about the current debate over high ticket prices in the West End, the actress said: "I think it's really disappointing that so many people don't have access to the theatre because of price or location and it shouldn't be seen as a luxury."

Dujonna Gift has been praised for her "rich and powerful" voice

The hit musical, written by Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, first premiered at London's Kiln Theatre in 2023 to rave reviews.

In a four star review, the Telegraph's Marianka Swain called the show a "total charmer" which had "all the ingredients to be an irresistibly sweet treat".

The writers told the BBC that it took eight years to perfect and was a tribute to rom coms.

"We watched so many rom coms for inspiration," Buchan explained. "We realised that actually these films do have an impact on relationships and if you watch them enough it can change your love life for better or worse."

In a separate review for London Theatre, Swain praised Barne and Buchan for having "crafted a sharp modern update to the Richard Curtis-esque Transatlantic meet-cute, adding welcome spice to that treacly recipe".

Along with soaring ballads and upbeat sarcastic tunes, it's the razor sharp lyrics that stay with you the most.

"There must be a decent available guy somewhere inside this phone!" sings Robin desperately during a song about Tinder dating, while Dougal mocks the creepy and predatory lyrics of Christmas Songs like Baby It's Cold Outside.

New quirky musicals
Two Strangers is just one of many quirky musicals that have recently hit London's West End in the hope to reach new audiences.

At the Olivier Awards in April, Operation Mincemeat, which tells the true story of secret mission that won Britain WWII, picked up the award for best new musical. It comes after the show had its run extended eight times and will now play until November 2024.

Operation Mincemeat opened in the West End last year

Later this year, a whodunnit parody musical, produced by the team behind Phoebe Waller Bridge's Fleabag, will open on the West End.

Kathy and Stella Solve a Murder! will run for several months at the Ambassadors Theatre after being a hit at the Edinburgh fringe festival.

Other brand new musical comedies to hit the West End in the coming months include Jack Godfrey's pop ode to being a teenager, Babies.

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