High Tide is a one-woman show about a woman and renowned scientist in love with the sea and her body of work dealing with the symbiotic nature we share with our environment.
Should you see it?
Written and performed by Morgan Johnson, High Tide is a glimpse into the life of marine biologist and conservationist, Rachel Carson, whose fascination with the Ocean as the source of all life led her to write numerous books and earns her credit for advancing the environmental movement, namely by shedding light on the dangers of synthetic pesticides.
Johnson beautifully portrays Carson as a woman in love. Her spirit and emotion are infectious, making it easy to let yourself get lost in the rhythm and flow of her often delightfully poetic dialogue. There’s never any denying how she feels, evidenced not only by the words she’s saying but by her every movement and gesture, down to a simple biting of her lip.
The story is told in monologues delivered to the Ocean, split up by speeches Carson is giving to the public. Not knowing enough about Carson’s work and life, I don’t know if these speeches were verbatim or written by Johnson.
While High Tide is an interesting look at a woman’s love of the Ocean, what might put some people off is a vacancy of any drama. The show is built on love and wordplay and has no dramatic arc. While it’s easy to get lost in Johnson’s performance, it’s just as easy to lose all interest with no central dramatic conflict to hold on to.
Matthew’s Follow Up:
Morgan Johnson does a spectacular job of stepping into the role of marine biologist Rachel Carson in High Tide. She carefully crafts her poetic declaration of love to the ocean throughout her 40 minute show and delivers them on point. The only true problem with High Tide is that there is nothing at stake. There is really no driving plot or element in the show that captures an audience members attention. The monologues that Johnson delivers, as Caron is giving speeches, feel more like lectures than anything else.
Perhaps it’s just because I am unfamiliar with Rachel Carson and her works that I couldn’t find myself truly engaged throughout High Tide, perhaps I just wanted something resembling any sort of plot to really get involved with Carson’s life. Either way, I found neither.
The transitions between Carson’s poetic love rants at the ocean and her speeches are also interspersed by unnecessary blackouts. There wasn’t any scenery change or movement except that a pencil Johnson held became a microphone. A simple lighting cue may have been more effective than having the audience sit in the dark for 30 seconds while nothing happened on stage.
What did you think? were you as enamored with Johnson’s portrayal of Carson as she was with the ocean, or did the lack of drama leave you bored? Join the discussion in the comments below.