ABOVE PHOTO: Former heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson and director Spike Lee announce “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth”, a one man show on Broadway starring Mike Tyson, on Monday June 18, 2012 in New York.
(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision)
By Savannah L. Barker
Heavyweight boxing champion and controversial celebrity Mike Tyson offers a very personal look into his life in his one-man show “Undisputed Truth,” playing at the Pantages through Sunday. Written by his current wife Kiki Tyson and directed by Academy Award nominee Spike Lee, “Undisputed Truth” tells the story of Tyson’s early life, boxing career, struggle with crime and finally his recovery. Unlike the melancholy Tyson seen in his 2008 documentary “Tyson,” “Undisputed Truth” reveals a much happier and charming Tyson, much like the funny and lovable persona seen in “The Hangover.” With an unparalleled charisma and a surprisingly profound knack for storytelling, Tyson brilliantly shares his memories of life in the fast lane with a comedic touch.
Tyson opens the show recalling his childhood, with an addict for a mother and a pimp for a father in a place where Tyson explains, “dreams were broken and memories best forgotten.” While he uncovers many saddening details about his youth, he constantly interrupts himself by finding the humor in his obviously grief-stricken past. Tyson’s sense of humor and clear growth throughout his performance help the audience connect deeply with his story, regardless of its opinion of Tyson prior to entering the theater.
Tyson debuted “Undisputed Truth” on Broadway last summer and followed that up with another successful run at the MGM in Las Vegas before deciding to embark on a 10-week tour of the show. Tyson’s honesty, rawness and positive energy exhibited in “Undisputed Truth” are likely the reason Tyson was able to fill the nearly 3,000-seat Pantages Theater on opening night. A crowd full of devoted Tyson fans constantly cheered him on when he talked about his mental growth as well as his sobriety.
The one-man show was presented more like a stand-up comedy than a typical Broadway affair, but it worked perfectly with Tyson’s overarching theme of light-hearted, positive self-reflection. The stage was bare, accentuated by a projector, which was used to show images and videos of the people, places and memories referred to throughout the show. In Tyson’s short breaks, the audience watched video clips of some of his most profound boxing moments, evoking memories of the magnificent athletic talent he possessed in his younger years. While only a small portion of the show was dedicated to the many achievements of Tyson as a young boxer, these forays into the past let the audience remember the Tyson that existed prior to his struggle with drugs, conviction of rape and time in prison.
To put it simply, “Undisputed Truth” is a must-see show for those craving to see the gentle side of one of the most feared men in America. Tyson proves to be a talented storyteller and an incredibly relatable human being. Behind his feared persona is a humble father, a dedicated husband and an inspiring storyteller whose tale is definitely one worth listening to.
‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth’, Directed by Spike Lee, In association with Larry Magid Entertainment Group Premieres in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music, Thursday, May 2; 8 PM