FOLLOWING the critical success of their recent co-productions, York Theatre Royal will once again join forces with Pilot Theatre.

This time it will stage the world premiere of The Machine Stops, Neil Duffield’s exciting new adaptation of EM Forster’s chilling short story predicting and exploring our increasingly intricate relationship with technology in our lives.

Directed by York Theatre Royal’s associate director Juliet Forster and featuring a new soundtrack composed by John Foxx, pioneer of electronic music and founder of Ultravox, and analogue synth specialist, Benge, The Machine Stops will premiere at York Theatre Royal and then tour to Eastleigh, Portsmouth, and the Platform Shift + festival in Budapest.

In a dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground, Kuno alone questions their now total dependency on technology to live and communicate with each other, but in his struggle to break out can he reach the Earth’s surface before the Machine stops?

British novelist, essayist, and social and literary critic, E M Forster is best known for his exquisite novels of A Passage to India and Howard’s End which were both made into Oscar-winning films, but his short story masterpiece published in 1909 is astoundingly prophetic and poignant in 2016, provided a chilling warning of the dangers of isolation, reliance on computer technology and the effects upon society. Its prescient notions that exist today included instant messages, televisual messages and the internet.

The Machine Stops cast will feature Caroline Gruber (2000 Years, National Theatre), Karl Queensborough (Cinderella, Lyric Hammersmith), Maria Gray (Car Story, Box Clever) and Gareth Aled (The Magic Flute, Complicite/ENO and War Horse, National Theatre)

The production is designed by Rhys Jarman lighting by Tom Smith and movement by Philippa Vafadari. The production also features a specially-composed soundtrack by John Foxx and Benge. John Foxx is best known as the original lead singer of the group Ultravox and as an electronic music pioneer.

Director Juliet Forster said: “I first came across the story in the late 1990s and became interested in staging it in 1999, as a response to the panic at the time around the Millennium Bug, and the fear that everything would breakdown and stop. I thought it would be an interesting way to explore our own reliance on technology, especially as the piece had such obvious dramatic potential; but I didn’t manage to get the idea off the ground at the time and the moment came and went.

"The classic short story never really left my mind as a possible stage adaptation, and year on year I have been amazed to see how much more our world resembles Forster’s – not just in the way technology has developed, but also in our human response to it."

The Machine Stops will run at York Theatre Royal until June 4. The play will then be re-staged for an extensive tour in 2017.

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