Michelle Obama played right into Susan Claassen's hands.

Tuesday, the first lady made a rousing speech at the Democratic National Convention.

"You see, at the end of the day, my most important title is still 'mom-in-chief,' " she told the crowd.

"My daughters are still the heart of my heart and the center of my world."

Wednesday, as if on cue, Invisible Theatre opened the Claassen-directed "Motherhood Out Loud."

The play - a series of vignettes about motherhood -echoed Michelle Obama's fierceness about being a mother.

But "Motherhood Out Loud" wasn't working to elect a president, so, naturally, it was often darker, funnier and more sentimental than the first lady's speech. And the play - while flimsy enough to waft away shortly after it's seen - worked.

"Motherhood," a mash-up of monologues by a very impressive list of contemporary playwrights, took us from birth to almost every significant event in a child's life - playground rifts to sex talks to graduation, birth again, and, finally, mothering our own mothers.

Claassen smoothly wove the pieces together, creating an entertaining 90 minutes of wispy storytelling.

Sure, some of the jokes were stale, the hand-wringing overwrought, and there's no denying this is a sentimental piece.

But it never spilled over into cloying, and the cast of four deftly shifted characters, set moods and brought the audience into their confidence as they told stories of angst, anger and deep, deep love.

Lori Hunt gave the most solid roots to her characters. At Wednesday's opening, she possessed the spirit of every part.

Filling out the cast are David Alexander Johnston, Susan Kovitz and Barbea Williams, each owning their multiple characters and giving effective voice to, among others, gay parenthood, a mother of a soldier, and a mother of a young boy who loves exploring his feminine side. This show is way, way inclusive.

Review

• What: Invisible Theatre's production of "Motherhood Out Loud."

• Playwrights: Conceived by Susan R. Rose and Joan Stein; written by Leslie Ayvazian, Brooke Berman, David Cale, Jessica Goldberg, Beth Henley, Lameece Issaq, Claire LaZebnik, Lisa Loomer, Michele Lowe, Marco Pennette, Theresa Rebeck, Luanne Rice, Annie Weisman and Cheryl L. West.

• Director: Susan Claassen.

• When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 23.

• Where: Invisible Theatre, 1400 N. First Ave.

• Tickets: $28. All available tickets are half price one-half hour before curtain.

• Reservations, information: 882-9721 or invisibletheatre.com

• Running time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.