Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

This Texan tale of foiled romances and religious dedication is based off a play written in 1989. Yet it captures a romanticised outlook of Texas that in our heads hasn’t really aged at all. This vision is a playground where Lauren Meckel has her fun. This honky-tonk musical is an acoustic shindig that finds enjoyment in the fables of a dramatic love life. The problem? There are just too many “secret Dans” to cram into one short little lifetime.

This is a light-hearted odyssey adapted from the original show by Jo Carol Pierce, and based loosely on her life. Pierce asks Jesus to answer her burning questions, but his responses lead her astray on a calamitous adventure. Meckel’s performance is as alluring as it is funny. She captures Pierce’s desperation and confusion as things escape her control, complete with amusing anecdotes and sillier moments that let the audience see the funny side. The often interesting intersection between religion and romance is not allowed to turn Bad Girls Upset by the Truth into melodramatic gloop. This is a nicely paced, enjoyable Texan frolick.

Meckel’s singing furthers the idea that Pierce is a lost soul trying to find the light. The lyrics lament her eventful existence and wonder why her religious awakening has caused nothing but chaos. Laying the blame squarely at God’s feet, the songs are an opportunity to express herself in a way that fascinates the audience. Meckel’s capable guitar work is matched with a resonating voice that feels like it is singing into the mid-distance, her questions not aimed at anyone in particular. These moments are often the most absorbing, a break from the more comical dialogue that doesn’t feel out of place or unnecessary.

You feel as if Meckel should be telling you this story around a campfire during the Texan night, pickups thundering by on the highway and the neon of the next town flickering away nearby. This is a tale baked into the concerns of everyday existence in southern USA, although with enough caricature to ensure that you don’t take it too seriously. Incredibly funny and on occasion heartfelt, Pierce just needs the big man upstairs to cut her a break.