Mike Tyson's 'Undisputed Truth' review: Emotionally revealing
In the ring, Mike Tyson never held back. The same can be said of his one-man Broadway show.
Over the course of 90 minutes, Tyson the showman uses the same straightforward approach as Tyson the fighter while speaking about his triumphs, tragedies and demons. "Undisputed Truth," is essentially the former heavyweight champion holding court at the Longacre Theatre.
Kiki Tyson, his third wife, wrote a very clever script. Her husband veers off it occasionally, but it doesn't matter because Tyson is a good storyteller. The show, directed by Spike Lee, is at times crude, at times emotional and mostly funny. His delivery is on target, although often laced with profanity.
There is very little use of boxing footage. Instead, the show transitions to the different stages of Tyson's life with still photographs on a screen at the back of the stage. Tyson looks at the photos -- visual cue cards in a sense -- to move from era to era. Tyson pokes fun at himself throughout much of the show, singing (not too well), dancing (slightly better) and skipping across the stage.
Tyson often goes on the attack, using humor to jab at promoter Don King, heavyweight rival Mitch Green and ex-wife Robin Givens. To the audience's delight, he spends the most time talking about Givens, even suggesting her career might be revived because of the amount of time he spends talking about their failed marriage.
Tyson is often apologetic (he says he's thankful that Evander Holyfield has forgiven him for biting off a piece of his ear). And he is adamant when he says, "I did not rape Desiree Washington ," though he adds that he probably should have gone to jail for other things in his life.
The most poignant and emotionally revealing moments come when Tyson speaks about his mother ("I don't know if I ever told her I loved her; I hope she knows.") and the accidental death in a bizarre choking incident of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus ("I became a member of a club no parent wants to join.")
It's been seven years since Tyson's last fight, and he opens by saying, "For those of you who don't know me, I'm the guy who used to knock out." On the stage, he shows that he's still capable of delivering a knockout. Only now, he doesn't need to throw a punch.
WHAT "Undisputed Truth"
WHEN | WHERE Through Aug. 12 at Longacre Theatre, 220 W. 48th St.
INFO $75 to $199; 212-239-6200, tysononbroadway.com
BOTTOM LINE Tyson's still punching.