DO you know which book EM Forster wrote between those mighty literary oaks A Room With A View in 1908 and Howard's End two years later?

The answer is the chilling short story The Machine Stops, Forster's astoundingly prophetic 1909 prediction of a future dependent on an increasingly intricate relationship with the technology in our lives.

Now another Forster, Juliet (no relation), is directing Neil Duffield's new adaptation as the re-opening show for the York Theatre Royal Studio in the latest co-production between the Theatre Royal and its long-standing company in residence, Pilot Theatre.

Running from May 13 to June 4, before touring Eastleigh, Portsmouth and the Platform Shift + Festival in Budapest, this world premiere comes with a newly commissioned soundtrack by electronica pioneer and Ultravox founder John Foxx and analogue synth specialist, Benge.

"I've been wanting to do this play since 1999," says Juliet, the Theatre Royal's associate director. “I first came across the story in the late 1990s and became interested in staging it as a response to the panic at the time around the Millennium Bug, and the fear that everything would break down 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."

Juliet first talked to Neil Duffield about doing an adaptation in 2008, and gradually it has come to fruition. "We were going to present it in 2014, but we didn't have a co-producer in place and the Theatre Royal's period of closure was coming up. We decided the re-opening of the theatre would be a good time to do it as it's a bigger Studio production than usual and we knew it would make an impact," says Juliet.

E M Forster's story is set in a dystopian world where humans have retreated far underground and only Kuno 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?

"I was thinking about the way we could render the story and initially I saw it as a two-hander with the mother and the son, but bit by bit I realised that the world Forster created and the concept of the Machine running the world was too big for only two performers, so we're having two actors, Maria Gray and Gareth Aled, playing the Machine, as we needed the Machine to be embodied in the piece," says Juliet.

"On film and on TV, you could represent the Machine in a mechanical form but for us, as theatre makers, we must do what theatre does best by using actors.

"What you then see in this world is that people have become more mechanical and their humanity has been compressed by the Machine because they have such minimal contact with each other."

Forster foresaw the dangers of isolation and a reliance on computer technology, while his prescient notions that exist today included instant messages, televisual messages and the internet. "In Forster’s world human beings are separated and isolated by technology, as much as they are connected through it, so theatre – which is primarily about individuals gathering to share a live experience together – seemed a highly appropriate medium in which to explore the story," says Juliet.

"I am a real lover of science fiction and speculative fiction: I find alternative realities a really useful lens through which to examine our own dilemmas, and I'm very excited that through Neil's beautifully written adaption and John Foxx’s soundtrack, a new and imaginative piece of theatre set in the wonderful dystopian worlds of Forster’s imagination will be created for a new generation.”

Taking the role of Kuno is Karl Queensborough, who has been struck by the contemporary resonance of E M Forster's technological world. "I think there is fear that one day, maybe not as extreme as the book suggests, the only means of communication will be through Skype and Facetime and the idea of actually meeting people face to face would be alien," he says.

"It's the way that technology has improved so much that we're relying on it more and more to satisfy ourselves, and effectively Forster has predicted how it could end up."

Juliet paraphrases a Marshall McLuhan saying about how technology does extend people's possibilities but for every amplification, there is an amputation. "None of us would say technology in itself is a bad thing, but we have now got to the point where so much of what we do for ourselves is done through technology that we're handing over our autonomy and our will to machines," she says.

York Theatre Royal and Pilot Theatre's The Machine Stops, York Theatre Royal Studio, May 13 to June 4, then on tour. Box office: 01904 623568 or The play will be re-staged for an extensive tour in 2017.