The Summer of Harriet Walter
I'm sorry. Some of you will get this and most of you will care not even a wee little tiny bit. Such is life; it's 2:23 in the morning and I am of no mind to explain inside jokes cogently to the world. You can either accept a certain degree of ambiguity and roll with things or be on your merry way. And P.S.: I am way too tired to spell check.
Nutshell: Thanks to either some shoddy camera cues or mistaken seating agreements on the recent Tony Awards broadcast, Harriet Walter and Janet McTeer—both nominated as Leading Actress in a Play for Mary Stuart—were misidentified to the viewing audience (i.e., a very specific, highly gay slice of America) as each other, meaning Walter = McTeer and vice versa. And at SarahB's Tony Party, naturally we took this to mean that the British are interchangeable. Therefore and many beers later, it seemed only logical that Harriet Walter would shortly be taking to the streets of Manhattan to commit all kinds of mayhem under the auspices of poor, innocent Janet McTeer, who according to the laws of interchangeability would be found guilty by virtue of her Britishness. Multiply that simple notion times a factor of (boredom + TXT + Twitter), and a random exclamation of "Harriet Walter!" becomes at once a rallying cry, excuse, and MacGuffin of sorts for a small, self-referential band of theater nerds, which is to say that Harriet Walter is now both the question and the answer to everything. (To wit: "Harriet Walter rigged the Iranian election!" or "Harriet Walter gave me swine flu!" or "Guess who stuffed a firecracker down my shorts? Harriet Walter!") I warned you; Such Is Life, Part II.
FFWD: when SarahB and I tried queuing up for tickets to Twelfth Night this morning (at 7:00 A.M.; I was told anything later would be foolhardy), we were forced to give up almost before we started and decided to take a return trip to Mary Stuart tonight instead, to see exactly what the Real Harriet Walter was up to. Would she recognize us? Confess to her many crimes? Who knew?
Anyway, here is Harriet Walter as represented by the Broadhurst Theatre. Seems harmless enough on posterboard, I guess.
Here's SarahB and me with Harriet Walter. OOPS! I mean Janet McTeer, who plays Mary, Queen of Scots... Lovely, amazing, presumably innocent; likely has neither keyed cars on Eighth Avenue nor done body shots off Raul Esparza. ALTHOUGH WHO CAN TELL, REALLY? Anything's possible in this crazy town.
And here, at long last: the Real Harriet Walter! Also lovely and amazing while looking super sweet and totally innocent, right? That's what she wants you to believe! Meanwhile she's busy picking your pockets or turning you over to the Feds for gun running or illegal shrimping or something.
Trust me: it would be so much simpler for all of us if I could just grab you by the hand and shout this into your ear: "HEY, HARRIET WALTER!" Maybe then, through sheer force of enthusiasm and weirdness, you would understand what it all means. Suffice it to say that Harriet Walter has leant a sort of screwy, mythic significance to our summer—through no fault of her own—and thus both SarahB and I were practically levitating off the sidewalk as this photo was being taken. But what the camera shows is mostly nerves. Because HEY HARRIET WALTER!
At any rate. The only actual moral of this story is how very much I love this motherflippin' play, because I haven't had the energy to stagedoor anything since god-knows-when. Mary Stuart is my true love of the summer. And long, long may she they reign.