Kitchsy, authentic, yet ultimately unclear in its messaging, The Healing Show: Cosmic Cures for Catastrophic Cases, presented by SoZo Media, is a quirky look into the life of an energy healer. It’s currently playing at Eastminister United Church Sanctuary as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Sophia Zoe is an energy healer. She purports to have helped many patients — human and animal — by offering her healing services through phone, email, or in person. She is also very open in stating that energy healing doesn’t always work (this is a consistent theme throughout her 60-minute solo show).
Held in a church that is unfortunately plagued by a lack of air conditioning, Zoe recounts what brought her to practice holistic healing, her struggles to overcome trauma, and the fight to find herself.
One thing this show does not lack for is spirit and authenticity. It is clear to everyone in the room that Zoe means every word, and it isn’t hard to entertain the holistic practices she supports, whether or not you personally believe in their effectiveness. While it is a relatively lively telling of events, most of the show lacks gravity in tone, and tonal variety. Zoe’s narration is spirited enough to keep your attention, at least. What could become a long rant about her hobby-turned-profession is instead punctuated with laughter and audience participation.
That’s right — one lucky audience participant walks out of each show with an elixir of essential oils, another with a rejuvenated, energy-healed body. Though personalized and mostly humourous, I felt that these interactions often felt forced, or completely interrupted the pace of the show.
One example of a forced audience participation break is in the use of a bucket that Zoe claims to “vomit” her negativity into before emptying it outside. This prop is only used twice in the show and is nowhere near the center of the stage where most of the action takes place. This exemplifies the sometimes awkward staging of the show: while space is limited due to its setting in an actual church, the placement of props and set pieces is sparse and distinct, forcing Zoe to hop forward, back, left, and right to reach props and set pieces that are used less than a handful of times.
Zoe cleverly summarizes holistic healing in the same way the show can be: definitely weird, questionably helpful, but entertaining. Zoe comes across as a delightful woman, utterly dedicated to her passion of energy healing. While that passion comes through in her performance, in my opinion the show is awkwardly paced and spaced, with little variety in delivery. If you are interested in holistic medicine to any extent, however, this show might just tickle your fancy.
This review is based on the Wednesday, July 3rd preview performance of the production.
- The Healing Show plays at Eastminster United Church. (310 Danforth Ave.)
- Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
- Content Warning: audience participation.
- Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
- The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.
- Wednesday July 3rd, 7:00 pm
- Thursday July 4th, 8:30 pm
- Friday July 5th, 5:00 pm
- Saturday July 6th, 8:00 pm
- Thursday July 11th, 8:00 pm
- Friday July 12th, 5:00 pm
- Saturday July 13th, 8:30 pm
- Sunday July 14th, 3:30 pm
Photo of Sophia Zoe by Azita Ziaei