As Philip blossoms, Treat sees his power slip, and is challenged by what Harold attempts to teach him — lessons in profit motive, moderation, and keeping his cool (in a great scene, Harold has the two men re-enact a scene of Treat losing his temper on the bus, with Philip unforgettably playing a huge black man). Though early on, Burnham's Treat sometimes wants for a little more lurch and danger, he is excellent in conveying the subtle dimensions of the older brother's mixed love, rivalry, and sadism toward the younger, as well as in slowly revealing Treat's insecurities and repressed emotions.
Losing his long paternal control over Philip is as much a loss to Treat as a death in the family, and over the course of the play, both brothers have a chance to revisit that grief, and to free themselves in the process.
Megan Grumbling can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ORPHANS | by Lyle Kessler | Directed by Chase Bailey | Produced by Seacoast Repertory Theatre, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire | through February 27 | 603.433.4472
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