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   Sonnet 144

One of the best books ever written on acting

Acting notes from Playing Shakespeare by John Barton: Stress the antitheses and the text will be totally clear. Also in this sonnet humour made the unpleasant experience bearable. Shakespeare always demands of his actors to play two or three contradictory attitudes at once. These sonnets are rich in that kind of clash, humour and pain, clarity and confusion, double meanings and contradictions. If an actor can handle the ambiguities in the sonnets he can unlock anything in the plays.

Two loves I have of comfort and despair,
Which like two spirits do suggest me still:
The better angel is a man right fair,
The worser spirit a woman colour'd ill.
To win me soon to hell, my female evil,
Tempteth my better angel from my side,
And would corrupt my saint to be a devil,
Wooing his purity with her foul pride.
And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend,
Suspect I may, yet not directly tell;
But being both from me, both to each friend,
I guess one angel in another's hell:
  Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt, 
  Till my bad angel fire my good one out.
Read by Claire Marchionne
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