Inside the box
David McPhail, Sunday Star Times, 21 May 2006

It's been overworked but the current format of putting people in unusual or stressful surroundings and filming them crying, plotting or going hysterical still pulls audiences. However, for a different and highly revealing insight into the heights and depths of performing take a look at Tough Act on TV2. It follows the lives of students from the 2005 intake into Toi Whaakari: the New Zealand Drama School and it makes a survival show look like a tea party. There were nerves, fears and tears as the hopefuls went through a series of grueling workshops and this was just to get admitted to the school.

The edginess of the show comes from it not being a contrived game populated by a crowd of muscle-bound nitwits or women wearing clothes made out of a shoelace. These are people with real hopes and aspirations and the relief for those who succeed is counterbalanced by genuine sadness for those who don't.

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