Fooling Buddha mixes unlikely elements for entertaining evening

| April 10, 2016 | Comments (0)

FoolingBuddhaPress01Magician David Kovac stars in “Fooling Buddha,” a coming-of-age story that mixes several unlikely elements to create a story everyone who grew up in the Midwest will understand. Before we saw the show, I was skeptical that Kovac could pull together middle-class Milwaukee, magic and Buddhism into one entertaining evening. It wasn’t long before Kovac’s easy style wove a story that felt familiar and new at the same time.

Since this is a one-man show, Kovac performs as every character. His mannerisms and facial expressions transform him from a childhood bully named Eddie to his parents to the magic store owner with ease. The storytelling feels smooth and natural as he transitions from the school classroom to his kitchen to the magic shop. You might not have lived through the same experiences, but you know the moments well. In one scene David tries to talk to his parents about Eddie. This time Eddie taunts young David by saying that young David is “going to Hell.” David’s parents respond with “How does Eddie know your plans?” The entire audience laughs because we have heard similar things from our parents. David is looking for some words of wisdom to help him deal with the class bully. What he gets is a classic parental redirect that mirrors the way a magician redirects the audience.

There are a lot of redirects in the show, which is how Kovac weaves three seemingly disconnected topics into one charming show. It’s the old-school, slight-of-hand magic that is the show’s star. From the moment Kovac discovers his ability to amaze audiences with his magic skills, he practices on every available audience from his classmates to the Buddhists gathering in his family’s living room. He learns what works and what doesn’t work — both in life and with magic. He takes each lesson back to the House of Illusion where his mentor finds a magic trick to solve every problem.

Everyone in the audience could relate to Kovac’s struggle to find his place in the world. At first the story seems too specific to hold universal truths. You have a Buddhist kid from Milwaukee exploring his nascent magic interest.  What makes it work is that you can easily change the details to fit your personal story. Maybe your bully’s name wasn’t Eddie, but everyone has stories about an elementary school nemesis. Perhaps magic wasn’t your refuge, but everyone has something that helped them get through elementary school whether it was books or drawing or sports or movies. These things mesh together to create the adult you are today, just as Eddie, magic and Buddhism are Kovac’s foundation.

On his website, Kovac refers to “Fooling Buddha” as “an evening of myth, mystery and infinite jest!” This is a great show for everyone from teens to senior citizens. Young children might not have enough life experience to appreciate the stories Kovac tells, but everyone else in the family will walk away delighted.

“Fooling Buddha” run through April 24 at First Folio Theatre in Oak Brook. The theater offers free parking and easy access to I-290 and Rt 83. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit


Shari writes about life with twins at Two Times the Fun. Image courtesy of First Folio Theatre.


Disclosure:  I received media passes to review the show. My words and opinions are my own.





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Category: Shari's Corner

About Shari: Shari is a mom, wife, marketing communications professional, gardener, Chicago Blackhawks fan, college sports fan, traveler, quilter, community volunteer, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, Siberian Husky owner, Girl Scout troop leader and book lover. You can find Shari blogging about life with twins at Two Times the Fun and tweeting @slcs48n1. View author profile.

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