As is to be expected, some of these sequences work better than others. The first three sections are rather obvious—Constance is feisty and poor when Ephraim is haughty and proud, then snobby and rich when he’s more down-to-earth, then dirty and rude when he puts on his finery. But after the fourth chapter (which lasts for 30 hilarious seconds with Constance as a Spanish nun and Ephraim as an uncomfortable suitor), the play ventures into more inventive territory.
Complementing the history-spanning story is CM Zuby’s excellent set. The couple always meets in the same room in the same bar, and at the start of each chapter The Host makes minor alterations to indicate the passage of time. Especially effective is the large clock at the back of the stage whose hand swings from hour to hour and indicates which chapter we’re on.
Although Hansen gets to play the most dazzling part with her frequent reincarnations, Ross transforms just as many times, showing the profound effect that every interaction has on his age-old character. Both actors make the ups and downs of their love story convincing, even when the plot veers into the melodramatic. Dave Clarke plays The Host with amiable pluck, but his character suffers from being more of a plot device and puppet master than a genuine person.
Equal parts over-the-top comedy and sentimental romance, Ten Times Two struggles to balance humour and heartache. The Eternal Courtship is a goofy, cartoonish play, and it works best when it isn’t trying to be deeper than it is or make a big point about love.
Directed by John Hudson
The Backstage Theatre, $18 – $27