ONE HAND CLAPPING, Factory Theater Company. I’ve been waiting for years for comic writer-actor George Brant to knock one out of the park. Ever since his first self-produced show, Lovely Letters–a one-act parody of A.R. Gurney’s lightweight Love Letters–it’s been obvious that Brant has a comic vision. But he hasn’t always known what to do with a clever premise: Lovely Letters ran too long, while more recently Brant has turned out shows that feel underwritten.

With his new piece, however, Brant lives up to his promise. One Hand Clapping is both a one-man show and a parody of one-man shows, especially their overweening narcissism. Here Brant plays what I assume is a more neurotic, needy version of himself–no functioning human being could be this hungry for attention and approval–squirming and twisting onstage as he tries to wring sympathy from the audience for his rather mundane life story.

What makes Brant’s work so much better this time around is how honest it feels. Gone are the literary games and the comic bits that are too clever by half. In their place is a much more emotionally available Brant, who one minute reveals the most vulnerable facets of his soul and the next wins big laughs by lashing out at those who’ve held him back, most notably Steppenwolf and evil Reader critics. –Jack Helbig