The World Is Too Much Star rating: ****

In Britain, global turmoil has traditionally inspired playwrights whose political rites of passage came in the crucible of 1968 to pen state of the nation epics that posthumously attempted to chronicle the recent events that inspired them. For writers who are effectively Thatcher's children, however, the last year has given them a different set of priorities that lean towards the personal while embracing a necessary small is beautiful aesthetic.

So it is with The World Is Too Much, a series of early morning rehearsed readings of new 30-minute miniatures by six writers from The Traverse stable. Inspired in part by the success of the similarly styled Ravenhill For Breakfast season of pieces by Mark Ravenhill a couple of Fringes back, the collective title is taken from William Wordsworth, and duly lays bare a litany of interpersonal frustrations caused by much bigger ills.

Simon Stephens' play, Heaven, finds a young man called Sean at an airport challenged by an older man, Kyle, for dropping litter. From this uneasy introduction the two men find some kind of common ground by way of their solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems. Kyle is no ageing eco-warrior, but is merely protecting his territory. Both men are running away. Sean has left his wife and children behind to find some kind of peace elsewhere, while Kyle appears to have moved into the airport itself. Among the bustle of strangers coming from and going to other places, he can remain anonymous. Kyle's karaoke rendition of the Talking Heads song, also called Heaven, is a gloriously ennui-laden and at times hilarious piece of apposite triumph.

Gentrification: A Conversation With My Neighbour Henry, by Enda Walsh, similarly begins with a deceptively domestic scenario, as two men negotiate their way through what at first appears to be a common or garden neighbourly dispute. Gradually over tea and Jaffa Cakes, a far darker portrait of a world where children are seemingly stolen en masse emerges. While such incidents are familiar from sources such as Andrew O'Hagan's brilliant post Fred West book, The Missing, as well as more recent events, Walsh attempts to get under the skin of a seemingly localised phenomenon.

Rona Munro's piece, The Basement Flat, finds an aspirational couple again at odds with the neighbours. Here, though, Fiona and Stephen have effectively hemmed themselves into what they presumed would be infinite boom years, only to be upended with the unexpected recession. Other forces are at work too.

These first three pieces are relatively simple set-ups in which, as with current Traverse hit, Orphans, people have boxed themselves into their own private corners in response to some implied urban nightmare beyond their four walls. David Greig's piece, Brewers Fayre, explores form as well as content in the boldest, most adventurous work on offer.

The audience are first invited to become the play's chorus by way of speaking dialogue projected onto a screen. At first this seems like tricksy novelty in a beautifully realised piece in which all the classic Greig themes of disconnection, communication and attempting to bridge the gulf between people are intact. Through our role as the chorus we meet a young girl who hates the world, a young man who only wants to run and a woman wanting some release from the torpor of her home life with a husband who never leaves it.

Through the powers of internet dating, Greig contrives a flesh and blood meeting in a South Queensferry pub where people seek solace from the Christmas cold. Here the play's interactive nature comes into its own, as we get to sing along to Winter Wonderland by way of the pub's karaoke. By the end, people are talking and the audience participation has become our own release in what resembles the most quietly hopeful of prayers.

Chris Hannan's zappily titled Posthuman Satire Slash Romance may sound like some piece of depraved cyberpunk pulp fiction, but is actually a grim peek into the outer fringes of a celebrity-packed nightclub scene, where VIP room glamour gives legitimacy to a cocaine-fuelled vacuity.

This is no out of time, in-yer-face affair, however, but is wittier and more complex. It is also the closest to a full-length play, and is already being developed further by Shakespeare's Globe.

By the time we get to Zinnie Harris's The Garden, we're back indoors, where a population boom has caused overcrowding and where Mac and Jane are fighting for survival. The couple have lost a child, Mac is trying to get back onto a sub-committee that might just change everything and there's a bump in the lino that turns out to be a living, breathing plant.

If this suggests some kind of new Eden amid the chaos, Mac and Jane are more resigned. In stark contrast to Brewers Fayre, there is precious little hope here.

All six plays are done script in hand, but in mini productions by Cheryl Martin and Roxana Silbert, with Harris and Greig directing their own pieces, all transcending a rough and readiness to give a disparate set of insights into the way we live now.

Heaven, August 23, 29. Gentrification: A Conversation With My Neighbour, August 18, 30. The Basement Flat, August 19, 25. Brewers Fayre, August 20, 26. Posthuman Satire Slash Romance, August 21, 27. The Garden, August 22, 28. All at Traverse Theatre.