(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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