By Veronica


There's been a theatre festival at the Cistercian tithe barn of Fontcalvy for many years, and for some reason we have never visited, in or out of the festival. A friend is part of the amateur troupe putting on the show every night for ten days, so we decided we'd make the effort to go. 

It's not that easy to get to from home -- it doesn't look that far on the map, but it takes a good 45 minutes to get there. Situated in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by flat plains planted with vines, it's visible from quite a long way off. Built in the late 13th century, it was one of numerous tithe barns built by our local abbey of Lagrasse. It's a remarkably unbarn-like structure with two floors, heavily fortified. Animals on the ground floor, perishable goods upstairs apparently.

There's a dinner before the show; the organisers were taking Covid measures very seriously. A host of young volunteers ensured everyone wore a mask except when sitting at the table eating, escorted each group to physically distanced seats, and served the food at the tables on individual plates rather than having people queue (see extra). Unfortunately it was even windier than yesterday evening; perhaps that's why there were only about 50 takers. The food was good, and despite the wind we weren't cold. Although once it got dark we did actually go and sit in the car for 15 minutes to keep warm while waiting for the show to begin.

The plot revolved around the canonisation of the recently deceased (in suspicious circumstances) abbot, and featured the devil, a delegation from Rome that included the pope's son, and lots of local peasants. There was humour mixed in; the butcher and plague doctor charged with keeping the body fresh while waiting for the canonisation to be confirmed were particularly entertaining. Our friend L played the abbot himself, who was plotting with the devil offstage. All very well done, if rather didactic in places, and luckily the wind dropped a little towards the end. You can see a trailer here.

A tortuous route home, back after midnight. Quite a social day as at lunchtime, having forgotten we were going out in the evening, we'd booked for lunch at the village social club, a northern meal of cheesy salad, chopped pulled pork in aspic with chips (not as bad as it sounds), followed by waffles. We had a good catchup with some people we haven't seen since we got back from Spain, followed by a siesta in preparation for the evening. It's been an excellent weekend.

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