Play Sonnet 118

Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge;
As, to prevent our maladies unseen,
We sicken to shun sickness when we purge;
Even so, being full of your ne’er-cloying sweetness,
To bitter sauces did I frame my feeding;
And, sick of welfare, found a kind of meetness
To be diseased, ere that there was true needing.
Thus policy in love, to anticipate
The ills that were not, grew to faults assured,
And brought to medicine a healthful state
Which, rank of goodness, would by ill be cured;
     But thence I learn and find the lesson true,
     Drugs poison him that so fell sick of you.



Sonnet 118 contemplates being sick of the happiness you’re used to, but more miserable in the alternative.

Will compares various kinds of purging in this sonnet– tasting different foods to cleanse the palate, inducing vomiting to cleanse the gut of food poisoning, and he himself switching to a diet of bitterness after being so cloyed by his lover’s sickening sweetness. Tired of being in such a healthy relationship, he sought out tainted people to keep company with, and became accustomed to the foul medicine of infidelity he had used as a preventative measure. But you cannot “cure” good with evil, and though he was sick of his happy relationship, he is truly poisoned by the drug of infidelity.

Will’s Wordplay

“Eager” here refers not to a desire to eat but to the flavor of vinegar and other pungent tastes.

“Compounds” suggests medicines, and perhaps the imagery is that of medicinal cures for loss of appetite. Will was afraid he would lose interest in his beloved and so sought other tasty morsels. Variety would spice things up! Not so much…

Bartow-Pell Mansion Gardens, The Bronx

Many public spaces in New York are named for the wealthy colonists who lived near there. This cite is the estate of some neighbors of Jonas Bronk, for whom the borough it calls home is named! The Bartow-Pell Mansion is located in northern portion of Pelham Bay Park in The Bronx. Originally the Robert and Marie Lorillard Bartow House, the residence and estate date back to 1654. The Lords of the Manor of Pelham once owned the home which was later enlarged, renovated and remodeled in the Federal style. The current house was built between 1836 and 1842. Ownership of the house passed between the Bartow and Pell families until it was finally sold to the City of New York in 1888 by descendants of the Bartow family. [1]

The mansion remained unused and empty for years before being leased by the City of New York to Mrs. Charles Frederick Hoffman, Jr. in 1914 to house the International Garden Club, Inc., an organization she had founded to promote formal gardens. The club has since extended its purpose to include the preservation and restoration of the home. [2] The exterior of the mansion was restored and the formal gardens were constructed from 1914 to 1917.[3] In 1936, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia used the mansion as his summer residence while nearby Orchard Beach was built. The interior of the mansion, furnished with period antiques, reopened to the public as a museum in 1946. The property also includes the Pell family burial plot.

The property was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1978. The mansion and a carriage house are included. Since 2008, Adventures in Preservation has been helping to preserve Bartow-Pell Mansion, a project that has been partly funded by a grant from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. [4]

About the Museum

“As the last remaining ‘great country estate’ in the Bronx Pelham Bay Park, Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum’s mission is to create a vibrant site through the preservation, restoration and interpretation of the property and grounds for the benefit of the public throughout the New York City metro region and beyond. Our mission is achieved by: protecting, preserving and restoring the site’s architecture, landscape and collection; interpreting the site’s history in compelling and innovative ways; and creating dynamic education programs for schools, adults and families.” [5]



1. Chronological history of Bartow-Pell Mansion

2. About Mrs Charles Frederick Hoffman

3. “GARDEN CLUB ENJOINS CITY”, “New York Times”, July 9, 1918, Page 24

4. Adventures in Preservation – Shutter Shop on Shore Road


ACTOR – Josh Jeffers

Josh is honored to be a part of the New York Shakespeare Exchange’s Sonnet Project. Josh has previously been seen in their production of King John and is currently working on this falls mainstage production of Othello.

DIRECTOR – Zhenjie Dong

Zhenjie Dong is a Chinese born and New York based artist, exploring ways to express her social and political concerns through art. She spoke at TEDxCreative Coast 2012 about her work Recreating Myth and the philosophy behind it. Her works have been exhibited around the U.S. including the North Carolina Museum of Art, the Atlanta Photography Group Gallery and La Galerie Bleue in Savannah, Georgia. Her video work Illness has been shown at Lumen Prize moving Image Art Festival in Hong Kong. Her work is part of the global tour of the Lumen Prize Exhibition, travelling around the world in United Kingdom, Latvia, China and Wales.