Historically, playwrights are too often judged by the complexity of their characters, not the excellence of their plays. But this is a literary judgment, not a dramatic one.
It is an interesting and valid observation, but I find that it is almost impossible to separate between dramatic and literary. We would like the characters to be round and juicy and at the same time we would like the play to flow. So finding the right balance is the genius of the playwright, but then finding a director with similar talent could be another challenge.
Definitely. I am doing an adaptation of Hedda Gabler for a local theater and I was struck by the difference (in my view) of the quality of the play versus the main character Hedda - who is emotionally complex and, for her time, no doubt sensational. But none of the other characters seem to me to rise to that level. I think Hamlet is a similar though less obvious situation - a character that is far more outstanding than the play he inhabits. In Henry IV, for example, Falstaff has Hal, for balance. Lear has the daughters, Edmund. Othello has Iago. It just struck me as interesting.
Good luck:-) I haven't read Ibsen for many years and I wonder if it still works. I find that Richard II really fits the description of a very complex, almost post-modern, character within a play which, for me, doesn't work as a whole.
This may prove illuminating...
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