You've got to have a sense of cosmic patience with a play like "Looking for Normal," a flawed script receiving a pretty good staging by a new company called Artisphere Theatre.

Jane Anderson's 2001 comedy-tinged-drama about a husband who, after 25 years of marriage, finally admits to and acts on his long-buried belief that he should have been born a woman is a pioneer in the nascent world of transgender theater. Vanguard plays like this generally aren't very good pieces of mainstream drama - they tend toward the preachy and the pedantic, the histrionic and the terribly, terribly earnest.

Anderson's effort is more accomplished than many of the scripts that characterized, say, the early stages of the national gay theater movement or the local beginnings of Asian-American drama. With a background in television writing, Anderson has a good ear for the witty line. But she has a terrible eye for structure.

Setting the story in present-day smalltown Ohio, she makes Roy, the protagonist, a regular, church-going guy who works at the John Deere plant. He's not too free with his emotions and he has some garden-variety dysfunction in his family. When the knowledge of his inner self becomes too powerful, he's compelled to spill the beans during what his wife, Irma, thinks is a routine "tune-up" of their marriage with their family pastor. . . .