Mike Tyson -- Undisputed Truth
Directed by Spike Lee
Spike Lee has done it again but for the first time, it's on Broadway and the kind of LIVE! I have never before experienced.
As soon as we entered the Longacre on 48th street it was clear that Brooklyn was in the house. There were signs of it everywhere as I looked around at banners placed throughout the theater. The music from DJ Clark Kent (who was visibly perched in a box stage left) pounded us into submission and readied us for the hard-hitting documentary, comedy, drama, narrative, spontaneous at times, one-man show about the American dream gone bad -- really bad. We had heard most of the stories before, read about them in the papers or watched them on TV but tonight we were going to hear them strung together from the man himself and directed by one of America's greatest storytellers, historians, cultural critics, and teachers.
Mike Tyson was real, as real as he always is because that's who he is. Handsomely clad in a suit yet dripping with sweat as he re-told, rendered and reenacted some of his major life changing events. There he was alone on stage, yet really in the ring again fighting his past, his demons, his stereotype, and re writing his history. It was the fight of his life. He walked, pounced, jumped and spun us through moments that were previously delivered to us via news media and some that were not. Fortunately, it was what the media did not report about Mike Tyson, what they left out over the years that made the show, the man, real and whole. Moments like the deaths of his mother, his mentor, his sister and his 4 year-old daughter. We heard the story of how he was able to give his mother a proper burial and gravestone after he made some money, how he lost his anchor when his mentor died, how he felt about losing a child.
What was left after the laughter, after the shouts of love, affirmation, and encouragement from the audience, and some somber silences was the story of a child -- young man -- man who needed and wanted a family, friends, guidance, some respect, and of course love. What he encountered for most of his journey was anything but that. Except for his mentor in the early days and his sister, Tyson was commodified and lulled into "enjoying" the myth of the American dream while being drained of his finances and his identity. It was also a story of redemption for those of us open to that belief, or those of us who heard and saw the proud regret of owning one's past and trying to learn from it. I want to thank the producers -- namely James L. Nederlander -- for making this possible. I can imagine this was a difficult sell.
So, it seems Spike Lee will lead Mike Tyson through the toughest most important 12 rounds of his life and I for one am rooting for him.