You might forget, with the songs about LeBron James and the cameos in "The Hangover," that in the not-so-distant past Mike Tyson was the scariest man alive. A boxer who seemed actually no-bullsh*t unhinged, he served three years in jail for raping Desiree Washington and, of course, bit off Evander Holyfield's ear.
Now, he's a softer, gentler Mike, with a Spike Lee-directed Broadway show that opened here in New York last night. Called "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth," the show has been talked about for a long time now, and last night, audiences who paid up to $199 a ticket got to see what reviews are saying is an odd, clumsy show.
The New York Times says it's "ham-handed and manipulative" and "lazily structured." Which isn't the worst thing in the world. But is it at least enjoyable? After all, it's friggin' Mike Tyson on a stage telling his life story.
Mr. Lee, who attached himself to the show after a version of it appeared in Las Vegas in April, has not brought to it the dramatic ebb and flow of his best movies. No one point is particularly higher or lower than any other, and some personal milestones, like Mr. Tyson’s initial winning of a championship in 1986, are skipped entirely.
There are overly long stretches in which Mr. Tyson trashes Robin Givens, his former wife; Mitch Green, a boxer with whom Mr. Tyson had an out-of-the-ring altercation in 1988; and the boxing promoter Don King. There is a strident denial that he raped a Miss Black America contestant in 1991, a crime for which he served three years in prison.
The Guardian calls it a "very weird production" that goes off the rails pretty quickly.
It's not so much that it's offensive; although the wisdom of a convicted rapist making cute jokes about his ex accusing him of beating her up and not knowing the difference between menstrual blood, miscarriage blood and blood from a rape doesn't quite clear under the defense of edgy authenticity. It's more that the script goes slack, Tyson's performance loses its tension and he turns, in this long, long section, into a man shouting on a street corner
The Times does says that he can be "surprisingly amusing" when the script wants him to be, but without much else besides Tyson just aimlessly talking on stage about his life, apparently he's fallen into the trap that drunk guys fall into when telling a long story. No matter what the subject is, at a certain point you just don't care. Check out the rest of the review here. The show runs 'till August 12.