(Self) Service is the story of Sally Rousseau, a young woman isolated by fear. This exclusion soon forces her to recreate a new social environment for herself, governed by her own rules, and based on principles allowing her to live inside this new group as an individual. But soon this very group exposes her to danger, giving her no choice but to break free from it again. The story of Sally Rousseau is the story of her slow move towards death, the start of which is the murder of one of her personalities, Sally Andreeus. This murder corresponds to an extremely violent internal crisis, which pushes her to suicide, hopelessly taking her “inhabitants” with her.
On the stage, a life-size house, a huge box, hermetically separated from the audience by a large bay window: an open window to the apartment of Sally R, a young woman on the brink of suicide. Only her shadow is visible through the closed drapes of her apartment. The moment passes, and they open to reveal four women, who are improvising, despite their sadness, the wake of one of them: young Sally B, who has been found dead, burned on her sun bed. The audience, relegated to the position of voyeurs by the distance that the staging imposes, witnesses an inquiry during which four women try to answer the same question: what am I in the process of witnessing?
The key to the plot lies in the way it is staged; the window that separates us from the actresses is the subterfuge that allows the truth to be hidden: the actresses/characters interpret the dialogues that make up the narrative in play-back. But then, whose is this voice that the characters are recreating? It belongs to the place. This “house” that contains them all, and that over the course of the story, leads them into its own destruction: Sally R.
“Every time I come to see something at Vidy, it’s good!” Alright, coming out of (Self) service, this thought is flattering for the theatre by the water in Lausanne, but it is justified for the explosive new piece by the young Belgian director Anne-Cécile Vandalem. A fascinating, burlesque, morbid piece of art, (Self) service plays with sound and with meaning, and invites the audience into the intimate world of a strange family, exclusively made up of women.
Corinne Jaquiéry, Le 24 Heures, 2008.