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Mike Tyson's solo show on Broadway: What did the critics think?

August 03, 2012|By Jamie Wetherbe
  • Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson makes his Broadway debut with the one-man confessional "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth."
Former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson makes his Broadway debut with the one-man… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Mike Tyson is back in the ring -- this time battling Broadway critics. The former heavyweight champ's one-man confessional, “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth,” opened at the Longacre Theatre on Thursday night for a short run through Aug. 12.

Written by his third wife, Kiki, the show spans Tyson's rough childhood, his triumphs and tragedies in and out of the ring and, later, his sobriety and conversion to veganism.

The tell-all is also dotted with Tyson's many public indiscretions: arrests, facial tattoos, drugs, running through a $400-million fortune and, yes, that ear-gnawing incident during his infamous match with Evander Holyfield.

“Undisputed Truth” originated in Las Vegas in April, and picked up filmmaker Spike Lee to direct the project for its Broadway debut. Lee has added a DJ spinning old-school tracks, projections of films and photographs and Brooklyn-centric banners, a reference to Tyson's hometown.

The first reviews from New York are in, and it seems while most critics agree that Tyson is the champ of charm, the 90-minute tell-all is more of a cop-out than a knockout.

Neil Genzlinger of the New York Times wrote that the show does "little more than [relate Tyson’s] well-publicized life story" with a "clumsiness startling to see on a Broadway stage." Genzlinger added that Tyson skips over more than a few pivotal life moments, including the deaths of "his mother, his sister and one of his children" in favor of "overly long stretches in which Mr. Tyson trashes Robin Givens, his former wife."

He added that the show is scripted, for the most part, to "draw whoops of support" from Tyson fans, and yet "that incongruous, almost childlike Tyson charm pokes through occasionally and makes you momentarily forget how ham-handed and manipulative the show is."

The Hollywood Reporter's Frank Scheck called the show "self-serving" and Tyson's monologue  "frequently profane, sometimes draggy." Scheck wrote that the show's focus is to "deliver [Tyson's] side of the story, while settling some scores along the way," but that the result, he added, is "weirdly fascinating."

Newsday's Robert Cassidy gave the show a favorable review, citing its  "very clever script" and Tyson's ability to tell a good story. Cassidy concluded that Tyson is "still capable of delivering a knockout. Only now, he doesn't need to throw a punch."

Joe Dziemianowicz of the New York Daily News wrote that the show "rambles and really needs tightening" and the "overly poetic words" can "ring false” for Tyson. Dziemianowicz wrote that while Tyson's sometimes rushed and mumbled through his monologue, he added that "Iron Mike is gifted with iron-clad charisma and can work an audience.”

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