Review: ‘Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth’

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There's a lot to dispute in "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth," but fact-checking or even just stating opposing perspectives is a lengthy and perhaps beside-the-point preposition. Did I do that when John Leguizamo tried out one of his biographical monologue shows at the Indiana Repertory Theatre? Would I do it if (heaven forbid), Suzanne Somers toured through town with her "Blonde in the Thunderbird" bio-show? 

No, of course not. So, for now, let's take Tyson at his word (or those of his wife, Kiki Tyson, who penned the script) and, instead, look at what was witnessed on stage during his Feb. 13 performance at the Murat. That one-night-only performance kicked off a national tour of the show which had a deliberately limited run on Broadway in 2012.

Part stand-up comedy, part confessional, part deposition, part rationalization and part therapy session, "Undisputed Truth"–when it is intelligible–doesn't seem to trust Tyson to be himself. It's at its most endearing when at its least articulate–when Tyson sounds like the awkward guy we've seen in interviews. Other times, though, would-be poetic lines ("My darkest night was ready to rob me of brightest day"–or something like that, it's hard to tell with Tyson) seem like they are being broadcast into his earpiece and repeated phonetically. Transitions get fumbled and lines repeated. But Tyson–sweating and seeming to fight to get his breath–managed to stay on his feet. When things looked tough, there was always a casual, expletive-filled aside to the audience for a laugh or a slide and a story of a deceased relative for pathos. 

But then whenever such sympathy or, at least, tolerance, seemed to build, Tyson's reality keeps getting in the way. Just when you start to almost like the guy, he goes and bites an opponent's ear or beats up a fellow boxer in a store in Harlem. He wants to be forgiven for his sins, but he's unforgiving when it comes to those who sinned against him. (Ex-wife Robin Givens gets the worst of it.). His drug problem gets too conveniently mentioned late in the show rather than woven through the narrative where it might temper his stories. 

Still, he plows forward to a place, he claims, where he is at peace. If that's the case, I'm happy for his family.

As to his conviction in Indianapolis, Tyson jokes extensively about his notorious time here ("Such a sh–y town. Such wonderful people…") and in prison ("the vacation of my f….ing life").

I didn't do it, he ultimately says,"and that's all I'm gonna say about it." 

Until, that is, upcoming shows in Chicago, Grand Prairie, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco…

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