(Sher's article appeared in the Guardian, 2/2.)

Confession time: I have ­always harboured a ­prejudice against Ibsen. I have thought he was too solemn for my taste, too sober, too glum. I believe that comedy must live alongside ­tragedy, as my two favourite ­playwrights – Shakespeare and ­Chekhov – prove.

Antony Sher: My quest to find Henrik Ibsen

Ibsen's plays are gloomy, solemn affairs, full of sad, thwarted lives. Or so I thought – until I went on a voyage around Norway to find out what made the writer tick

But when I was offered the part of Dr Stockmann in Ibsen's An Enemy of the People, and read the play, I found I couldn't put it down. Never mind the comedy/tragedy issue, this was like a thriller. In fact, Peter Benchley ­borrowed the plot for his bestseller, Jaws: a small coastal town is threatened with closure, except in Ibsen's version it's a health spa and the danger in the water is not a shark, but poisonous contamination. The man who has made this discovery, Dr Stockmann, finds himself in a battle against the mayor (his brother) and the rest of the town. I accepted the job with a feeling of ­excitement and curiosity. Would this be the moment I became ­converted to Ibsen?


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