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Mezzulah, 1946

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Your reaction to the world premiere of Michele Lowe's Mezzulah, 1946 at City Theatre can be gauged by the following: Upon seeing a poster with a kitten hanging by its paws from a metal bar, with the legend underneath exhorting "Hang In There, Baby!" your response is to (a) smile, or (b) kill yourself.

If you selected "b," I think you would do well to make other plans. Lowe's play, about a spunky, headstrong, quirky, grinning, winning, winsome, gee-willikers young woman being forced out of her World War II airplane-factory job because the menfolk are coming home is a heart-on-the-sleeve sentimental extravaganza. If you've ever seen Mornings at Seven, Paul Osborne's paean to small-town America, then you've seen Mezzulah, 1946. Imagine William Inge without the dark undercurrents and you have Michele Lowe.

If you selected "a," however, you'll probably enjoy this show a lot. Lowe's characters are sweet, sincere, dramaturgically old-fashioned and, on occasion, very funny. I liked director Erica Schmidt's overlapping staging, and I commend this huge cast for never camping or lampooning a work that, really, is mere inches from self-parody.

As for me -- well, let's just say that I like to imagine that kitty suspended over a vat of boiling oil.

Mezzulah, 1946 continues through April 1. City Theatre, 13th and Bingham Streets, South Side. 412-431-CITY.

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