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English actress Charlotte Palmer brings her solo show to Vancouver Island

With the help of her friend, Comox Valley musician Helen Austin, tour will stop in 7 Island cities

English actress Charlotte Palmer is bringing her one-woman show The Invisible Woman is not Invisible… she’s merely over 50! to various cities on Vancouver Island, with help from her long-time friend, Comox Valley’s Juno Award-winning songwriter, Helen Austin.

The Invisible Woman will be in Nanaimo on Nov. 16 (First Unitarian Fellowship), Victoria on Nov. 17 (Oak Bay Recreation Centre), Nov. 18 in Qualicum Beach (The Village Theatre, email for tickets), Nov. 19 in Tofino (Long Beach Resort), at the Duncan Showroom on Nov. 22, and at Char’s Landing in Port Alberni, Nov. 23.

Palmer will conclude her Vancouver Island tour with two shows - Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 - at the Old Church Theatre in Courtenay. (

Austin met Palmer in London, England, back in 1986 at university when they bonded over their love of flute playing.

They went on to spend several years performing street theatre together in the famous Covent Garden street theatre pitches under the name Flutes R Us. It was in those shows that Palmer taught Austin to find her comedy voice. Their performance was a mix of fabulous flute duets with clown-like choreography and silly banter.

They eventually went their separate ways with Austin moving on to comedy and then settling in Canada with her musical career. Palmer went on to pursue her love of acting where she had many successful years on stage and screen, performing alongside notable actors such as Simon Pegg, Ricky Gervais and Dawn French.

After decades in the spotlight, Charlotte suddenly became invisible. What had she done to bring this about? She had the audacity to turn 50.

“What happened was, just after her 50th birthday, her agent dropped her, just saying ‘There aren’t parts for women of your age,’” said Austin. “So the show has a lot of information about that. She comes from a comedic background and street theatre background, so it is a very physical show. But it is a fact of what happens to women in the acting business.

“She decided that ‘well if there’s no work, I’m going to create my own work.’ So she booked a theatre back where she lives.”

As soon as Austin saw the production, she knew she had to help Palmer bring it to Vancouver Island.

“I watched it, and I loved it - I was just laughing and smiling… I thought it was clever, and funny, and poignant, and I thought it would be perfect for here because the audiences are very good about joining in here.”

When Palmer visited Austin last summer, Austin talked her into bringing the show to Canada.

“I talked to Doug Cox (Old Church Theatre manager) about it, and he said ‘Why don’t we put it together here’… so that was our jumping off point, was booking the Old Church. From there I looked at other venues that could be (appropriate).

“Because it has music numbers and audience participation numbers, I just thought it would be good in the smaller venues.”

Austin has had extensive promotional experience, as she manages her own tours, as well as those of her band, Big Little Lions (duo with Paul Otten), but this is the first time she is handling someone else’s tour.

“It’s easier, but harder, as well,” she said. “Easier, because I get to promote somebody else, and it’s way easier to promote somebody else, rather than yourself. But it’s harder because you don’t want to let them down, particularly in this case. She is new to the territory and I want to show her how awesome everybody is… so I need people to show up. Because Canadian audiences are so different than British ones. They are just a lot more accepting, and looser (in Canada), and less of a coolness in a good way. Canadian audiences are just more open to things, and I just want Charlotte to experience that, the way I did when I first got here.”

Palmer’s television credits are extensive, with appearances in such English staples as Eastenders and Coronation Street. She has also had roles in Prime Suspect 73, Ab Fab, The Vicar of Dibley and Ricky Gervais’s Extras.

The Invisible Woman is not Invisible… she’s merely over 50! Canadian tour is exclusive to Vancouver Island.

Ticket prices vary per venue.