hiveWhat are you reading this on? Your phone? A laptop? A tablet, maybe? In a world so reliant on technology, do you ever look at the screen in your hands and wonder what you’d be without it? The Human Zoo Theatre Company did, and they confront their concerns about society’s dependence on technology with their promising début show The Hive.

A war of unprecedented scale has flattened the planet’s major cities and reduced the landscape to little more than a pile of burning rubble. Underground, the survivors are in thrall to a machine that sustains their lives: ‘The Hive’. The piece tells the story of Koto (Nick Gilbert), who dares to think there might be something beyond the walls of his 8 x 8 cell. Breaking protocol, with disdain for the system, he makes contact with Miri (Florence O’Mahony) from ‘the cell next door’ and together they explore the possibilities of human interaction free from the restraints of machinery.

Their clandestine relationship is delicately drawn and it forms the central narrative thread of this ambitious piece. Their intimacy serves as a reminder of the importance of human interaction in a digitalised world and Gilbert and O’Mahony play the lovers with honest humanity.

Sadly, the rest of the script pales in comparison. The Human Zoo Theatre Company won the 2014 Les Enfants Terribles Award and anyone familiar with that company will recognise stylistic similarities here. Combing puppetry, poetry and powerful ensemble work, The Hive boasts a number of spectacular set pieces, but the company are often guilty of giving precedence to style over substance.

Inspired by the likes of 1984 and Brave New World, The Hive wears its influences firmly on its sleeve. The piece is overly reliant on re-hashed tropes from the dystopian genre and it is clear that not enough thought has gone into the dystopian reality they attempt to create. It is as if the writers enjoy the idea in principle and are willing to turn a blind eye to some of the difficulties it presents in actuality.

There is no denying the potential of this young ensemble, but The Hive ultimately amounts to less than the sum of its parts.

The Hive is at the Pleasance Dome (Venue 23) until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.