Mike Tyson’s Broadway play, “Mike Tyson: The Undisputed Truth,” opened on Brooadway Thursday night and, while it didn’t exactly get rave reviews, the critics seemed to find a lot to like about the play and especially about the charisma of Tyson.
Directed by Spike Lee and written by Tyson’s wife Kiki, the play brings the audience on an autobiographical trip through Tyson’s life, hitting most of the highlights of his storied and troubled career while also dealing with some of the pain Tyson has experienced. With tickets that can go as high as $199, the play will likely be seen mostly by Tyson fans—who won’t be in a mood to quarrel with the former champ using the stage as a chance to crush those for whom he still holds much bitterness, including boxing promoter Don King, his ex-wife Robin Givens (and this is an interesting area of attack, considering that the play was written by his current wife Kiki), and even the beauty beauty pageant contestant Tyson still claims he didn’t raped—but served three years in prison for the crime.
One of the most critical reviews came from the New York Times—which shouldn’t be surprising, since this isn’t exactly the kind of Broadway fare that the Times tends to revere. The Times said the play was “among the odder spectacles Broadway has seen in a while.” But while the newspaper of record said Tyson had “a clumsiness startling to see on a Broadway stage,” its harshest criticism was reserved for Spike Lee for directing a show that was so “ham-handed and manipulative.”
But Tyson’s performance was more warmly received in other quarters.
“Iron Mike is gifted with iron-clad charisma and can work an audience,” wrote Joe Dziemianowcz in the NY Daily News. “He dances jigs and twists his high-pitched Baby Huey voice to mimic characters in his life who appear on a huge screen.”
In the Telegraph, which gave the show three out of five stars, Mark Hughes said Tyson’s stage manner was “impressive” while the play was at times “funny,” “genuinely touching” and “captivating.”
This was Tyson’s description of the dumps he fought in early in his career:
“If the crowd didn’t like your performance,” he says, “they didn’t boo you, they started fighting among themselves, to show you how it was done.”