THE BOX, Buick St, Petone, Wellington

13/04/2011 - 16/04/2011

Limelight Lounge, Aotea Centre, Auckland

04/05/2010 - 08/05/2010

TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

11/06/2011 - 12/06/2011

Pacific Crystal Palace, Masonic Park, Tauranga

25/10/2011 - 25/10/2011

Te Puke Repertory Theatre, Park Lane,

26/10/2011 - 26/10/2011

Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

02/07/2011 - 03/07/2011

Royal NZ Navy Hall, Dunedin

05/10/2012 - 06/10/2012

NZ International Comedy Festival 2010

Tauranga Arts Festival 2011

Otago Festival of the Arts

Production Details

Well known NZ performer Paul Barrett shares his firsthand experience of a lifetime with Tourette syndrome in an outrageous and entertaining evening of musical satire with the premiere of his solo show – TIC TIC, playing at Limelight Laugh Lounge from May 4 -8.
Drawing on his vast experience as a professional actor, singer and musical director Barrett singlehandedly plays a cast of dozens to tell the story of his life. Determined to build a successful career in the entertainment industry Barrett reveals how he coped with the intense demands of public performance in spite of the many vocal and physical tics that are part of his syndrome.
Written by award- winning playwright Michelanne Forster, and Paul Barrett and directed by the accomplished Jennifer Ward-Lealand , TIC TIC unashamedly presents the wildly funny side of tourette’s, while giving audiences insight into this often misunderstood syndrome.
TIC TIC was part-funded by a 2009 New Zealand Mental Health Media Grant – proudly supported by the Like Minds, Like Mine programme and the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. Judi Clements, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation says, “TIC TIC is an exciting project, because it will draw people into a world they are unlikely to be familiar with, and in an entertaining way that will leave them with a new perspective on the issues and challenges associated with Tourette syndrome.”
Although Paul Barrett has appeared in over 100 professional theatre productions, played numerous roles on television and has a wealth experience as a musical director he finds his TIC TIC performance the ‘most challenging of his career’.
The genus for TIC TIC came out of a chance conversation with his dear friend and colleague Michelanne Forster in 2008.   Forster was surprised to learn that Paul had Tourette syndrome and encouraged him to work with her on recording a series of conversations about his life. The transcriptions of which provided the starting point for the script. 
Forster’s prize-winning plays been performed professionally throughout New Zealand and in Australia, Canada and the United States. Her play include, My Heart is Bathed in Blood, This Other Eden, The Rosenberg Sisters, Larnach, and Daughters of Heaven and The Great Storm of 1868. She has also written scripts for Television New Zealand, TV3, Radio New Zealand and The Learning Channel (USA).
TIC TIC is part of the NZ International Comedy Festival and plays:
Where: Limelight Laugh Lounge (Aotea Centre, The Edge)
When: 8.30pm. Tue 04 May – Sat 08 May 2010  Extra 10pm show Friday 7 May
Tickets: $20- $25. Plus applicable booking fees

Bookings: 0800BUYTICKETS or www.buytickets.co.nz  

Tic Tic played sellout performances to Aucklanders in the 2010 Comedy Festival and now comes to The Box Petone foran exclusive 4 night season!

April 13-16 
The Box Petone
47 Buick St
Tickets $30

Curtain 8pm | Bar from 7pm 
Bookings:  Telephone: 568 0396

Tic Tic – Auckland 2011

TAPAC, Western Springs
Saturday 11 June at 6pm
Sunday 12 June at 7pm.
Book at TAPAC or by phoning 09 845 0295
or online at

Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna
Saturday 2 July at 8pm
Sunday 3 July at 4pm.
Book tickets through Ticketmaster 0800 111 999 or

Tauranga Arts Festival 2011 


Otago Festival of the Arts 2012


Presented by GS McLauchlan and Co.
Fri 5, Sat 6 & Sun 7 Oct
HMNZS Toroa Hall
Duration 1hr, No Interval
General Admission
$38 / $32
Student $25



Disparate components flow smoothly

Review by Kimberley Buchan 06th Oct 2012

The Otago Festival of the Arts starts with a bang. Two monkeys greet us at the door of the HMNZS Toroa Hall. We are seated beneath a tented ceiling and faced with a straightforward stage. Black curtains, some chairs, a piano. The set, much like the performance is straight to the point.

Paul Barrett makes no bones about wanting to educate his audience about the reality of Tourette’s syndrome. He quite clearly and unabashedly lectures his audience throughout the performance, even providing a model of the brain to aid his medical discourse. If only all lectures were delivered in this way, as they would be a lot more memorable.

It would be a disservice however if you came away thinking it was merely an academic address as it is so much more than that and does not pontificate at all. Tic Tic is a jovial romp through a life seen through a multitude of disciplines.

We encounter etymology, a chronicle of Tourette’s syndrome and Barrett’s autobiography all structured by a recital of the history of music. It is a remarkable thing to see his fingers dance across the keyboard.

This seems like a lot to get through in just one hour. Barrett delivers a slick, fast paced performance in which he flies through a multitude of characters. These characters are all vivid in spite of the fact that some of them materialise only for seconds, snatched out of the air by a couple of facial expressions or inflections. They populate the anecdotes that relate the biographical aspects of the show.

The anecdotes also serve as a social history of New Zealand, always with a self-deprecating twist.

Michelanne Forster has been successful in the difficult task of structuring so many diverse elements together into a performance that is cohesive.

Music is used to punctuate the show but it is Barrett’s supple voice that melds the disparate components together. Jennifer Ward-Lealand has directed a smoothly flowing, entertaining show.


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Quite simply an inspiration

Review by Vivienne Quinn 26th Oct 2011

Paul Barrett presents an accomplished, warm and inviting piece of theatre with his auto-biographical piece, Tic Tic. Co-written with Michelanne Forster and directed with simplicity and pace by Jennifer-Ward-Lealand, Tic Tic is a moving, insightful and energetic show, portraying Barrett’s personal quest for a creative career (and true sexual identity) whilst growing up with undiagnosed Tourette’s syndrome.

Barrett is engaging with his audience, a good-sized crowd at Tauranga’s Art Festival. This one-man show never wavers in its clear narrative; a challenge considering how many characters Barrett brings to life, with an assortment of their own personal tics and accents.

I particularly enjoyed seeing the 4th Form Tawa College nemesis, Gavin Jerkoff, in all his thick-as-a-brick glory, and this slightly older audience really appreciated the brief but spot-on Robert Muldoon impression. 

The show is punctuated throughout by Barrett’s fine piano playing and singing, with music that is relevant, timely and often very funny. The writing is witty and sometimes painful, but never dwells on disappointments for long. I think the success of this piece lies in the simple truth of it remaining upbeat and positive, even though some of the content is historically disturbing.

Tic Tic never turns into a bitter tirade and I for one, would recommend it highly, especially to friends living with their own nervous disorders. This piece is quite simply an inspiration. 

[Note: Tonight – 26/10 – Tic Tic plays Te Puke.] 


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Transported to a twitchy gay 1970s

Review by Joanna Page 03rd Jul 2011

In this restrictively politically correct world, only Paul Barrett could make a comedy out of Tourette’s syndrome – and get away with it. Why? Because he has it, and on stage he owns it.

Jennifer Ward-Lealand directed the biographical one-man play Barrett wrote with Michelanne Forster and it’s honest as. All Barrett does is move from a stool to a piano seat, but as he does he transports his audience through time and introduces an ensemble cast of the people from his past. Starting with his neighbour’s Nana in Tawa. 

Through voices, song, accomplished piano playing and a Greek yodelling lesson, Barrett peels back the layers of mystery of Tourette’s. He’s forthright about his ambitions, his homosexuality and his condition and you wonder what would have been harder to grow up with in 1970s New Zealand – being gay, or twitching compulsively.

Tic Tic will make you laugh loudly and involuntarily – but it’s ok to be the only person in the theatre guffawing; that’s what the show’s all about. In fact Barrett flips Tourette’s on its head by taking complete control and putting his audience wondering what squawk of laughter will explode from their lips, or when.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


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Compelling narrative delivered in a frank, easy, natural style

Review by Nik Smythe 12th Jun 2011

There are large shiny cartoon letters spelling ‘TIC TIC’ swaying gently against the plush black curtain backdrop, with the audience quite clearly reflected in them, offering us a literal look at ourselves. Which is all very nice, but we’re here to look at Paul Barrett and he himself is here to show us himself, as indeed he does.

Introducing said self with a flourish, in passing, on the shiny black grand piano, Barrett seats himself on the only other piece of set, a fur-cushioned barstool on a circular red rug, to begin his story in 1965 when, as a young boy growing up in Tawa, he was encouraged to join the cub scouts. 

The ensuing tale is of a life spent dealing with the (undiagnosed) condition of Tourette syndrome, which both Barrett and a bit of a read on Wikipedia will tell you comprises a pretty wide range of forms of nervous tics, from physical compulsions to vocal outbursts including the one that made it famous: coprolalia, compulsive swearing.  

Barrett’s own personal afflictions are predominately physical, though you wouldn’t know it if he wasn’t telling you so. It seems a life spent in the discipline of music and acting has resulted in some kind of mastery over what can for many other people be an extremely embarrassing and debilitating condition. 

Paul Barrett co-wrote his theatrical memoir with seasoned writer Michelanne Forster, and – with the guidance of director Jennifer Ward Lealand – delivers a warm, honest remembrance of the challenges he has faced. His frank, easy, natural style is almost disarmingly familiar as he takes us on the journey of his life, which could as well have been about dealing with the issues of being gay in the days before it was legal, had that trial not taken second fiddle to the more pressing and unconcealable problem of his obsessive compulsions and physical tics.

From his attempts to consider a ‘normal trade like an electrician or plumber’ to his frustration in getting taken seriously by the seriously minority industry that was New Zealand drama in the 1970s, Barrett tells it as he remembers it.

And of course the coup de grace to underpin an often funny, always entertaining yarn is Barrett’s first class musicianship. Besides a veritable array of eclectic radio and show tunes and original classics such as the informative ‘It’s Fun To Learn Greek The Tourette’s Way.’ there are ingenious segue flourishes and incidental stings. It all combines into the kind of laid back Dean Martin style that you don’t see so much these days.

More narratively compelling than its companion piece Hotel – A Cabaret, Tic Tic predominantly focuses on the lighter, more amusing aspects of living such a challenging life. It didn’t quite make me cry but I laughed plenty and walked out properly entertained, and glad for the inspiring experience. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


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A life as a performance

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 20th Apr 2011

It can’t have been much fun growing up in Tawa in the 60s particularly if you were gay, liked singing, playing the piano, watching TV shows and having a body that often behaved in ways one could not control. Paul Barrett did join Cubs and earned an Entertainer’s Badge but Scouts, rugby and other boyish pursuits were not for him.

For the 60 minutes that he holds the stage in his witty, highly entertaining, slickly performed, very funny, educational, and at times touching play that he wrote with the assistance of playwright Michelanne Forster, Paul Barrett shows himself to be a charismatic solo performer.

One minute he’s doing an accurate and funny snapshot of Paul Lynde in the TV show Bewitched (a childhood favourite), the next he’s acting his heart out as he rehearses his audition piece for Drama School (he wasn’t accepted). And then he’s off to Vic and studying music while he acts in all the amateur theatre groups from Wellington to Kapiti.

Eventually he becomes a professional actor and finds that radio drama is an ideal place to perform because his tics and odd uncontrollable movements are not seen by an audience. It’s not until the 1990s that he discovers that he has a connection to the Emperor Claudius and Dr Samuel Johnson who had what is now called Tourette Syndrome.

The educational part of the performance is a brief and amusingly presented history lesson (with musical accompaniment) about this brain malfunction. Not only does he make it interesting but he makes one moved, sad and angry in one scene in which he presents the diagnosis of a pontificating pediatric Freudian psychiatrist in New York in the 1940s who has decided that the cause of two young children’s Tourette’s Syndrome is sexual.

Apparently Tic Tic was a sellout at the 2010 Auckland Comedy Festival. It should be here too.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


Maryanne Stella April 20th, 2011

Just to say I loved this show so much I saw it twice in one week! Fantastic review, it was indeed a beautifully crafted piece. I look forward to seeing more of Paul's work!

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Funny, poignant, insightful, educational and musical

Review by John Smythe 14th Apr 2011

Ah, the efficacy of telling your own story in your own voice; of distilling personal experience to an essence that humans recognise! It’s the authenticity that makes it such a valued gift on so many levels.

If that sounds a bit earnest, rest assured Paul Barrett’s Tic Tic is not. It is funny (truth + pain = comedy), poignant, insightful, educational and delightfully musical.  

Ostensibly about growing up with, living with and coping with a form of Tourette Syndrome – not the potty-mouthed kind, nor quite the I Claudius kind but more the kind that involves compulsive twitching, twirling and some vocal tics – it emerges as the story of a self-made and self-controlled (as opposed to medically controlled) man.  

The desire to discover, know and be oneself despite the external pressures to conform to ‘norms’ or the internal desire to be someone – anyone – else, is universal. The fundamental human connection to what is finally a heroic story of triumph over adversity is therefore very strong.  

Along its merry way Tic Tic also offers a social history of New Zealand, seasoned with touches of Gay New Zealand, from 1965 until now, and a history of Tourette’s itself, carried on the wings of a musical history – all crafted with a lightness of touch that belies the skill brought to its making. And in this purpose-driven process we are treated to a consummate performance of richly-drawn characters interwoven with dextrous piano playing and some very good songs. All within an hour.

Barrett shares the writing credit with Michelanne Forster who, on learning he had Tourette syndrome, worked with him to record a series of conversations about his life. The transcriptions provided the starting point for the script, hence its natural flow and tone. I have no idea who wrote “I had the upper body strength of a battery hen” but the script is full of such nuggets of wit.

As he tells his warts-and-all tale, Barrett proves extremely adept at accents. Whether he is recreating a covertly judgemental grandparent (or was she a neighbour?), a character from his beloved Bewitched, a thick school bully, the small-minded careers adviser, the kindly family friend and referee, the savagely imagined voice of his rejection letter from NZ Drama School, a boyfriend or two, the treacly voice of a women’s magazine advice columnist, the Freudian paediatric psychiatrist in New York who sees repressed sexual desire in everything (including Tourette’s), Emperor Claudius, Dr Samuel Johnson or the social worker who ratifies him … his instant portraits are potent.   

Sending up himself provides high points, too, as when his early acting style is earnestly overblown, and when he sabotages a first date at Il Casino with his bizarre and compulsive blather: a classic laugh/cry moment.  

As well as being a dab-handed pianist from classical to pop, Barrett is clearly a fine composer, e.g. of ‘It’s Fun to Learn Greek the Tourette’s Way’ (a Tom Lehrer pastiche), his withering spoof on Freudian psychiatry, and his final quiet message: ‘If You Meet a Guy (who just can’t keep still) …’  

Jennifer Ward-Lealand, as director, has also overseen the rhythm, flow and tonal changes that make Tic Tic such a pleasure. Don’t wait for someone to bring it to Wellington City. Flock to Petone and enjoy it in the intimacy of The Box where it plays until Saturday.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


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Comic but deeply personal take on Tourette’s

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 06th May 2010

At the more refined end of the Comedy Fest spectrum is an elegant memoir chronicling Paul Barrett’s life-long engagement with Tourette’s syndrome.

The show opens by debunking the popular and wickedly appealing myth that Tourette’s provides some sort of medical sanction for uncontrollable outbursts of extravagantly abusive foul language. [More]


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Deserves a longer life

Review by Adey Ramsel 05th May 2010

Actor, musician and composer Paul Barrett squashes the myth straight away that all sufferers of Tourette’s twist and squirm their way through life yelling obscenities. Disappointment set aside, Paul gallops through his one hour show illustrating why he has been theatrically successful, jumping from one brilliantly drawn characterisation to another, from the piano, through classical pastiches and parodies, back to finely-tuned impersonations. 

Favourites of the night have to be the careers officer, gay boyfriend Gary and the college thug /bully. The portrayal of a young, confused, but determined boy growing up in the 1960s, where being different was a handicap in itself, is endearing.

Thankfully Paul Barrett is a very talented man who draws on his musical skills to support a story that could well fall flat with mere oratory; although in saying this the highlights of the evening are specific anecdotes that illustrate how Tourette’s has negatively affected him, namely the disastrous conducting of the orchestra and the encounter between aforementioned boyfriend Gary’s eye and Paul’s finger. 

The inclusion of more personal anecdotes at the start and less generalisation would have invited us more into Paul’s struggle. We actually need an early invite to laugh openly at something that most of us are reluctant to laugh at. As it was, the homosexual references and banter raised more than their fair share of belly laughs with an audience being on safer ground.

A brief history of Tourette’s, linked very cleverly with composers of the day, works well if you manage to catch the quick link.

Stylishly staged, a tight script and controlled performance, thanks to actor and director, keeps us focused; not an easy task when you’ve no character to hide behind and it’s just yourself very much up there on show. 

It’s more a one-man play than cabaret, the asides and quips being too slick and polished to serve the latter. There was obviously very strong industry support in the audience for a loved colleague and it would be interesting to see the general public react to the show. 

It would be a shame if Tic Tic got lost in the swarm of comedy festival shows; it deserves a life of its own. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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