Three women stand onstage in short dresses and high heels, showing off their engagement rings and telling the audience about their most recent booze-fueled escapade in the city. Despite the seemingly familiar framework, however, Adam Bock’s The Drunken City is far from Sex and the City: The Play. Standing against a sparse backdrop of empty liquor bottles and graffiti, the ladies shift a little too uncomfortably in their stilettos to parallel any of HBO’s chic Manhattanites. Renegade Theatre Experiment‘s season opener follows the thirsty bachelorettes on a bar crawl not through the town where they’re from, but in the city: a place they find dark and glamorous and where they allow their carefully put-together lives to get out of control.

Marnie, Linda and Melissa are best friends whose happily-ever-after fantasies begin materializing when each of their boyfriends pops the question at about the same time. They’re so vested in defending their perfect lives that Marnie and Linda can hardly fathom Melissa’s jealousy when she is the last to receive a ring. The three women clutch so tightly to their fantasies that they have difficulty comprehending why anyone might ruin the moment by feeling angry or jealous or unhappy. Which is why when Marnie meets a cute stranger and begins to question whether she really wants to marry her fiance, Gary, their foundations are completely shaken.

The Drunken City opens Renegade Theatre Experiment’s season centered around the myths that we use to structure and understand our lives. When Melissa and Linda try to remind Marnie of all she has to lose, they have little to offer but the props of her nuptials—the barn wedding, the cake, the dress, the ring—pieces of the myth that were supposed to make Marnie’s life fulfilling. In short, poetic and pathetically honest drunken confessions, the characters reveal the dark places in their dream worlds.

Unlike in Sex and the City, lessons about love and life aren’t wrapped in a polished package of fast-paced banter. The women of The Drunken City are real: they scream all at the same time, they lose their train of thought and they make incredibly stupid jokes. But perhaps that’s what makes the play so touching, and so scary.

The Drunken City
Thru Sep 28 at Historic Hoover Theatre