Actor Dillon Porter stars in “Seven Poor Travellers” this weekend at Key City Public Theatre in Port Townsend.

Actor Dillon Porter stars in “Seven Poor Travellers” this weekend at Key City Public Theatre in Port Townsend.

KCPT offers a Dickens holiday classic this weekend

PORT TOWNSEND — For the perfect post-holiday theater experience, the public is invited to Key City Public Theatre’s one-man adaptation of Charles Dickens’ holiday classic, “The Seven Poor Travellers.”

“Seven Poor Travellers” opened Thursday night and will have performances today and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Tickets are $24 at www.keycitypublictheatre.org, by phone at 360-385-KCPT, or at the box office, 419 Washington St.

“Seven Poor Travellers” was written by the late Charlie Bethel, known at KCPT for his one-man shows and directing, and at one point being forced to star in 2011’s Shakespeare in the Park production of “MacBeth,” and performed by Dillon Porter, most recently seen in June’s hit musical, “Murder Ballad.”

“The Seven Poor Travellers” is a meandering, magical treat for the holiday season, where a skilled actor can hold the audience in the palm of his hand with naught more than a bench, coat rack and a glass of water, according to a press release.

A story within a story, “Travellers” is about the temporary residents of a hostel, inspired by London’s famous Six Poor Travellers House, who are treated to a Christmas Eve feast and entertainment by the narrator.

That story is a tale of war and friendship and personal growth, the story of Richard Doubledick, a fatalist who enters the British military with the express purpose of getting shot and whose life and sanity are saved by an officer named Taunton.

When Taunton is killed in battle, Doubledick devotes his life to finding the responsible French officer.

In his pursuit of revenge, he rises through the ranks from private to captain, and learns that the greater virtue is not vengeance, but forgiveness.

Audience charmed

All the while, the narrator charms the audience with wit and panache.

In Dickens’ original 1854 story, “The Seven Poor Travellers” takes place on Christmas Eve at a charity hospice founded in 1579 by Richard Watts — a place that Dickens knew well from his childhood days, according to Dickens Journals Online.

In Watts’ will, he specified that the hospice was to supply six poor travelers with one night’s free lodging and entertainment and with fourpence.

In the opening section of “The Seven Poor Travellers,” entitled “The First,” the narrator — he brings the travelers up to seven — describes the charity, its procedures, its lapses and its six clients.

Dissatisfied by the scanty charity fare, the narrator provides food and wassail for his companions, and then goes on to tell a story, suggesting that the other guests do likewise.

The next six sections are given over to the stories told by the travelers.

Dickens is believed to have written the introductory parts to each of the travelers’ stories but the actual tales were probably written by others, according to Dickens Journals.

Charlie Bethel

Charlie Bethel