The Fine Line Between Admiration and Obsession

The Mob Mentality

The Shakespeare Company with Ground Zero Theatre and Hit & Myth’s production of Julius Caesar on September 27th, 2017 was a brilliant interpretation of Shakespeare’s classics which captured the inconsistency of an obsessive mob mentality. This to say, if the Roman public had been free-thinking they would not have been so easily swayed to form mobs for and against Caesar. The play’s production allowed for many moments of analytical appreciation for curious minds with aspects such as the symbolic use of blood to the irony of having an omnipotent Caesar in the background throughout the duration of the play. Audience members were left with plenty to ponder upon; however, the aspect of the play which I found most integral when transitioned from text to stage was the arch of the Roman citizens’ outlook on Caesar as it brought forth the notion of admiration versus obsession. 

The preliminary stage of the arch began as obsession – an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind; excessive, especially extremely so – with loving Caesar. The Roman citizens took their admiration (respect and warm approval) of  his valor and strength during battle and fueled it with passion. In order to convey how strongly the Roman citizens felt director Ron Jenkins used the non-verbal dramatic techniques of lighting, levels and sound effects. His creativity with these was demonstrated during the offering of the crown scene where he was able to harness lighting to draw eyes to Caesar, giving audience members insight into the manner in which the Roman public generally viewed him. Further, having the only other character on stage at the time – Mark Antony – kneeling before him accentuated this notion through the creation of levels in which Caesar was elevated. Accompanying this was the use of overlapping dialogue and shouting through sound effects – accurately depicting the excess of passion and zeal present when individuals are obsessive. Finally, Jenkins’ choice of pacing, regarding the frequency of the citizens’ cheers, further affirmed their obsession and conveyed a strong sense of frenzy.

The Roman public was not only obsessed with loving Caesar; their obsession progressed.  They went from being obsessed with loving him, to being obsessed with hating him, to being obsessed with avenging him – serving as evidence of the inconsistency of passion. The passion of their mob mentality was present through out the play and acted as a catalyst for conflicts as those who were either for or against Caesar were able to build alliances and armies by convincing the general public of their argument. This was most convincingly conveyed during Antony’s speech when the citizens of Rome went from passionately hating Caesar to passionately wanting to avenge his death. The depiction of this shift in the span of approximately ten minutes reassured in my mind just how short lived passion truly is.

Antony’s admiration of Caesar was able to act as a foil for the obsession of the general public as he was somewhat subtle in his admiration. Though numerous dramatic techniques were used to convey Antony’s feelings towards Caesar, most notably used were non-verbal tactics – namely, body language. Antony displayed his admiration and respect of Caesar through his body language such as lowering his head, kissing his hand and cordial gestures of the nature. Unlike the riotous public, Antony praised Caesar infrequently and displayed his feeling toward him through actions, and at times words, significantly fainter than those of the Roman citizens. This contrast was marvelously done as the greatly underwhelming quality of admiration was not lost in the theatrics; rather, was exemplified when compared with obsession.

With all this two things became painfully clear – first, Jenkins is a magnificent director who was able to capture the unpredictability of passion; second, admiration and obsession can quickly become skewed. Whilst pondering on the latter I realized the majority of the conflicts in the play, to a great extent, were due to the public’s distortion of the fine line between admiration and obsession. Even though Shakespeare wrote Julius Caesar in 1599 this aspect of the tragedy still rings true to today. In contemporary discussions, such as that of US president Donald Trump, the public’s relinquishing of free thought and acquiescing to the obsession of a feeling – to love or to loathe – creates great division within any society. Although, as an audience member, I was left in awe of the production value of the show and the sensation of the experience, I am now left to ask myself am I truly free thinking in my praise or have I too blurred the lines of admiration and obsession and become lost in the mob mentality?



Thanks to Alysha and Lauryn for their suggestion to focus on consistency of voice.

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6 thoughts on “The Fine Line Between Admiration and Obsession

  1. Dearest Ibukun,

    Can I just first say, I adore the pictures you chose (mostly the Trump one – AHAH). The way you choreographed your underlying argument “the arch of the Roman citizens’ outlook on Caesar as it brought forth the notion of admiration versus obsession… ” into every paragraph allows the topics of obsession and admiration to dance between the lines – absolutely brilliant! I loved how you talked about how “non-verbal dramatic techniques of lighting, levels and sound effects. “contributed to obsession, the example of the light centered upon a character while the others were frozen on stage, to me, brings two stages onto one. The producer incorporated the use of the stage while you talked about how the stage managed the play – through obsession. Furthermore, “being obsessed with loving him, to being obsessed with hating him, to being obsessed with avenging him – serving as evidence of the inconsistency of passion”, was such an insightful comment, you honestly blew my mind; the connection to the pathos added upon your statement about “just how short lived passion truly is”. I’d also like mention how the choice of diction of “frenzy” and “catalyst” add to the quality of this piece! Ending with a contemporary example – Donald Trump – in connection with the historical example – Julius Caesar – pronounced your ending of “I truly free thinking in my praise or have I too blurred the lines of admiration and obsession and become lost in the mob mentality?”. Also, connecting back to how I previously talked about the Trump image, the ending about Trump brought this piece full circle!

    An area to improve would be to add a bit more concepts into this piece. I believe that you could’ve incorporated how the producer used other elements of the play; such as the time period or accent (language) to emphasize “admiration versus obsession”. Nevertheless, this was a great one! 🙂


    1. Dearest Judy,
      Reading your comments always brighten my day regardless of what type of day it was before – thank you! I am so happy that you to find some wisdom in the piece – glad that I didn’t waste your time :). Further, your high praise was very encouraging as, in all honesty, I was very anxious about posting this so having someone as magnificent as THE ~Judy Gu~ read AND comment on my blog means a lot, thanks.

      As for your suggestion on improvement, I will be sure to keep that in mind as my career as a small-time dramatic critic progresses. In all seriousness, I will be sure to focus on implementing more pieces of evidence in my more analytical pieces in the future.

      Thanks again for reading my blog.


  2. Dear Ibukun,

    First, I must say that I appreciate how you strived to ensure that themes present in a work as old as Shakespeare’s (and even older) are made as important to contemporary audiences; in this case, you utilized a picture of American President Donald Trump as Caesar, as well as a GIF of Regina George (from Mark Waters’ “Mean Girls”) to truly bring home the concept of admiration versus obsession. By exploring the ideas from “Julius Caesar” in a more modern context, you were able to relate to the audience and demonstrate that the themes of a play written in 1599 are still relevent today. I thought that that was brilliant!

    In terms of content, I found your exploration of the fine line between admiration and obsession to be quite astute. You mentioned the use of lighting, levels, and sound effects to effectively demonstrate the mob’s initial love for Caesar, through emphasizing their reverence, as well their zeal. I also admire your observations concerning the progression of their obsession; by illustrating the instability of passion, you were able to effectively connect these ideas back to the issues plaguing our world today. Through your post, you revealed your ability to shed light on the human condition (such as the effects of obsession on society), an ability that enables readers to see why literature is so important and how it can be applied in their lives. I feel that much of the world has lost sight of the importance of literature today, and for this blog post’s potential to spread awareness, I thank you.

    Now, to improve, there are a couple of things: first, there are sentences that can be potentially re-worded, such as “…the excess of passion and zeal present when someone(s) is obsessive.” The majority of the sentence actually flows quite well, but instead of saying “when someone(s) is obsessive,” I would suggest writing something like “the passion and zeal present when people are obsessive,” as that might make more sense grammatically. The sentence “the aspect of of [of is said twice] the play I found was most significance” could be re-worded as well (“with the” instead of “was”). There were also a few spelling mistakes, like the “rings” in “still wrings true today” or “valour” instead of “valor” (the latter “spelling mistake” is technically correct, but, you know, Canadian…). Other than that, however, there is nothing detrimental in your piece!

    All in all, your post was very interesting to read! It truly showcases your ability as a writer (in spite of your objections), and don’t be surprised if I’m not the only one who shares this sentiment. After all, amidst all the praise for your work, I may be starting to lose myself in the mob mentality…

    Ever yours,

    1. Dearest Jieo,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my blog – I’m very grateful for your comment. How in the world did you manage to write a comment with better structure than all of my essays combined? Either way, I am very happy that you found some truth or understanding in my blog that you hadn’t considered. Also, I’m glad that the pictures (admittedly used to draw a tad bit of attention away from my, at times, problematic writing) were able to aid in your finding of further significance in the piece.

      As for your edits i will be sure to fix my spelling errors – yikes – as well as reword the sentences. Whilst writing the blog those were the exact two sentences that I was tossing back and forth between wording for a while, thanks for the insight.

      Thanks again for you comment and words of encouragement, very (perhaps overly) kind.


      P.S. Serious question, do you wear pink on Wednesdays?

  3. Ibukun love,

    May i just start by saying this post stirred me in more ways than one. First of all, you decided to take an analytical approach to a piece of theatre (which excites me enough already) and used clear theatre “lingo” while doing so. I am surprised that for a student who has yet to take drama, you already know so much about the importance of blocking and levels – I am 112% sure you are going absolutely kill Drama 20. I seriously loved how you talked about the idea of the mob mentality as a means to drive your piece – the social nerd inside me was squealing. I found that the way you analyzed Mark Antony’s character in the second paragraph, as you described the importance of the direction to have him “kneeling before him [Caesar]” as a means of explaining the the dynamics of how Roman citizens viewed Caesar was both insightful as well as well worded. As well, I especially appreciated how you looked beyond just the executions of the lines by the actors themselves, but also touched on the elements of lighting, music, as well as actual direction as a means of demonstrating the differences between the themes of “admiration and obsession.” It is clear to see that your understanding of the importance of theatre lies beyond what it made the audience feel (although that is obviously most important), as it you reached an analytical level that honestly impressed me greatly.

    As for a to work on, it is important to give credit where credit is due. While it may be an easy misinterpretation, and although Haysam Kadri is the artistic director of the Shakespeare company, he did not direct this show. It was in fact Ron Jenkins who directed “Julius Caesar’, not Mr. Haysam Kadri. This lack of detail is minor in your piece, however as we choose to make comments about particular directing choices and such, it is important that we direct those at the right individual, or else our piece loses credibility, as well as the real director himself. On that note though, please don’t feel bad about this! It’s an honest misconception – there is no harm in it, it is just an easy fix. It’s quite easy to miss those little pieces of evidence, and so my suggestion to you, my love, would be to incorporate more evidence into this piece, just so that we avoid those moments there. I know it can be hard to do so for live theatre as it is something captured in the moment, whereas with literature it can be done easily as you can refer to direct passages, but remember that this is a classic Shakespearian play and so the script is readily available online for you to use. Being that you recommended Mark Antony. it may have been nice to see direct lines from his speech quoted, in order to develop a stronger argument.

    All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this piece love. Your words were skillfully chosen, and your arguments were selected purposefully and eloquently. Also, I loved the Ibukun-like flair that you added to this piece as you had a clear voice in your writing, as well as in in your selections of photos (especially in that Mean Girls GIF, LOL).

    I look forward to seeing what beautiful chaos you write next.

    With infinite love and gratitude,


    1. Dearest Yas,
      Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read and comment and my blog, really warms my heart! <3 Your words of encouragement about drama and my analysis mean a lot and will be sure to motivate me in the future. I greatly enjoyed you "112%" bit, 'twas a good one – your vote of confidence means a great deal to me.

      As for your suggestion thank you so much for pointing that out! I was a tad bit unsure as about which director to give credit to (even after googling job descriptions). I'll be sure to keep it in mind for future pieces of this nature. It most certainly is important to give credit to the right people so I am SO grateful that you pointed that out. Also, as I told Judy, I really will be working on implementing more evidence while ensuring it is still relevant to my topic, of course.

      Thank you again for reading my blog, Regina George really can brighten any day!


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