Tag Archives: Kiln Theatre

Two Strangers

Two Strangers (Carry A Cake Across New York)


Kiln Theatre



Two Strangers

“Tim Jackson’s lively production never misses a beat, played out on a revolve that circles Soutra Gilmour’s ingenious set”

Given a limited amount of time, would you rather spend it with someone you’ve never met or with someone you may never meet again?

One of the many questions thrown into the air in the captivating new musical, “Two Strangers (Carry a Cake Across New York)”. Dougal (Sam Tutty) is in New York for a whirlwind thirty-six hours. He has arrived for the wedding of his father who abandoned him before he was born. The excitement at the invitation is matched by his puppyish elation at being in The Big Apple. Meeting him at the airport is Robin (Dujonna Gift), the sister of the bride. Her cynicism is as great as his enthusiasm. Do opposites attract? Well – not at first. We might think we are in familiar Romcom territory, but there is plenty of rug-pulling that makes us think again.

Dougal lives in a movie, reliving the technicolour hopes and dreams that spill from the silver screen. ‘Do you know what we’d do now if we were in a movie?’ is his catchphrase. Robin lives in the real world, vaguely haunted by the ghosts of past, present and future. They clash, but with sparks hot enough to weld them together – yet Jim Barne’s and Kit Buchan’s writing is too complex to ensure the customary happy ending, and I’m not about to tell you either.

The opening number; ‘New York!’ is a crowd-pleasing overture, instantly putting a stamp on the two personalities. Sam Tutty’s Dougal is intensely irritating but insanely vulnerable and gorgeous. Tutty can cast a laugh-out-loud one-liner and wrap it around a tear-jerking anecdote with worldly skill. His brash, ingenuous shell is dangerously fragile. Dujonna Gift, as Robin, is the antithesis of the American Dream, and cannot seem to shake off her current nightmare that has arrived in the form of her prospective nephew-in-law.

“For a musical, there is more than enough script, which gives the two actors plenty to chew on, and reveal their formidable acting skills”

They bond, reluctantly, over Robin’s Tinder App during the sensational, staccato musical number, ‘On the App’, which showcases the clever lyrics that run throughout the show. Like many of the songs it is almost rhapsodic in nature, blending styles like a confectioner would concoct the most delicious flavours. Jim Barne’s score cannot be separated from the book and lyrics (credited to both Kit Buchan, and Barne). They brilliantly mix the old and the new, the traditional and the urban, classic and modern, the sweet and the sour. ‘Under the Mistletoe’ is a gorgeous parody of the seasonal hit that we all pretend to frown upon yet secretly love. It rises above pastiche though, sending up its source with a glowing affection that will ensure the song’s place in everyone’s festive playlist.

There are too many standout numbers. ‘The Argument’, sparse and rhythmic, delivered with precision timing by Gift and Tutty is both timeless and progressive, blurred by the doubt and confusion of too much liquor yet with a sharpness that cuts open a bitter and heartrending reveal. It is the performances of Tutty and Gift that propel the show as much as the score. For a musical, there is more than enough script, which gives the two actors plenty to chew on, and reveal their formidable acting skills. Their range, which can rake up many emotions, matches their vocal versatility. Through them, too, we get a three-dimensional portrayal of the off-stage characters and a glorious insight into the relationships.

Tim Jackson’s lively production never misses a beat, played out on a revolve that circles Soutra Gilmour’s ingenious set of piles of greyed-out suitcases that open and close to reveal the various locations, props, and the surprises and secrets of our protagonists. These characters have many shades, reflected and amplified by Jack Knowles’ moody, sensitive and innovative lighting.

“Two Strangers…” is the perfect Christmas tale. Part dream. Part movie. Part fairy-tale. And, of course, the obligatory snowfall during its finale. The opening number, ‘New York!’, is reprised, shifting from the major to the minor. Tender, plaintive and haunting now, but with a rising crescendo that reassures us all. We have cried. But we have laughed too. Hope springs eternal.


Reviewed on 16th November 2023

by Jonathan Evans

Photography by Marc Brenner




More recent reviews from Jonathan:

Treason The Musical | ★★★ | Alexandra Palace | November 2023
Backstairs Billy | ★★★★ | Duke of York’s Theatre | November 2023
Porno | ★★★ | Arts Theatre | November 2023
The Time Traveller’s Wife | ★★★ | Apollo Theatre | November 2023
Lizzie | ★★★ | Southwark Playhouse Elephant | November 2023
The Ocean At The End Of The Lane | ★★★★★ | Noël Coward Theatre | October 2023
An Evening Of Burlesque | ★★★★ | Adelphi Theatre | October 2023
Othello | ★★★★ | Riverside Studios | October 2023
Flowers For Mrs Harris | ★★★★ | Riverside Studios | October 2023
Shooting Hedda Gabler | ★★★★ | Rose Theatre Kingston | October 2023
Trompe L’Oeil | ★★★ | The Other Palace | September 2023
Close Up – The Twiggy Musical | ★★★ | Menier Chocolate Factory | September 2023

Two Strangers

Two Strangers

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The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre

The Half-God of Rainfall

The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre

Reviewed – 30th April 2019



“a captivating and unique blend of combined storylines and lineages that seamlessly interact and complement one another”


The Half God of Rainfall is the latest instalment from writer and poet Inua Ellams, performed at the recently revamped Kiln Theatre (formerly the Tricycle Theatre). It tells the mystical story of a half Nigerian mortal – half Olympian god, and his mortal mother.

Combining ancient Yoruba and Greek mythology, Ellams creates a sort of multiverse, with the Orishas and Olympian Gods standing side by side. This results in a captivating and unique blend of combined storylines and lineages that seamlessly interact and complement one another.

There is a strong sense of cohesive collaboration in this production. All the elements: design (Max Johns), sound (Tanuja Amarasuriya), lighting (Jackie Shemesh), movement  (Imogen Knight) and direction (Nancy Medina) had purpose and neither obstructed nor overshadowed each other. The aesthetic of the production, down to the costume design was simplistic yet precise; permitting the audience to fill in the gaps with our imagination. It was impressive and rewarding to see the intelligence and effort behind every artistic choice. The sense of play and the world of mythology was all the more enhanced for the audience, as a result.

The play is a two hander and reads like an epic poem, reminiscent of writers such as Debbie Tucker Green and Homer. Though wordy in parts (and the accents being a little off at times) the language and stylish flow of Ellams’ writing had the dexterity to always engage one back to the story.

The actors, Rakie Ayola and Kwami Odoom traversed effortlessly between multiple characters with a fluidity that reinforced the continuous flowing rhythm of the story. Their dramatic choices were bold and distinct. Most of all, Ayola and Odoom were wonderful to watch; arresting, dynamic and exciting.

This play is a multi-layered, complex and highly intelligent piece of writing. Ellams addresses racial politics, legacy, culture, human spirit, self-destruction and the narrative of abused women and lost men all under one mythological roof. The audience is sent on a journey to Olympus and the galaxies beyond as though turning the pages of the story ourselves. The fine line between legend and reality was masterfully detailed reflecting our own need and desire to create demigods out of celebrities and sporting heroes.

Unpredictably clever throughout, poignant and fun, we were also brought, purposefully, back to Earth as Ellams reflected the brutality of life, at us. How those in power, who can seem untouchable like deities, so oft abuse their privileged and inflict violations beyond comprehension. And yet, even in the depths of pain and violation, the human spirit can be an indomitable and mighty force.

Ellams intertwines message and poetry with great balance. We do not leave the theatre with the thought that this is simply a play to be left in the clouds of fantasy. We’re reminded to take home the sobering and yet uplifting thought that a magnitude of strength resides in all of us and that the choice as how we wield it is, indeed, a great one.

A skilfully crafted, magical folktale; one that will certainly stand the test of time.


Reviewed by Pippin

Photography by Dan Tsantilis


The Half God of Rainfall

Kiln Theatre until 17th May




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