AS Frances Poet speaks with The National, she sits in the car while a relative takes her young son and daughter to a nearby playpark.

It’s an everyday situation similar to the premise of Gut, a psychological thriller about who we trust with our children, which opens later this month at the Traverse in Edinburgh.

As well as more than 15 years of experience working in theatres across the UK, including as literary manager at the National Theatre of Scotland (NTS), Poet has extensive writing skills.

She worked on 2012’s political cabaret The Jean Jacques Rousseau Show with A Play, A Pie and A Pint’s David MacLennan, and it was the late theatre-maker who encouraged her to complete her first play, Faith Fall, a snappy three-hander presented in Glasgow and Bristol.

Since then, she’s adapted a number of plays, written a radio drama and written a short film starring Maureen Beattie and Lorraine McIntosh. In the past year alone, she’s worked with Dominic Hill on a version of Macbeth, Lu Kemp on a forthcoming production of Richard III and Cora Bissett and Adam Kashmiry on Adam, last year’s NTS Fringe hit, for which her lyrical script attracted much acclaim.

Gut, Poet says, is her first full-length “offering to the world, instead of writing to brief”.

When an early draft of the work was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting in 2015, Poet says she finally felt she could say: “I’m a writer now.”

“Suddenly I didn’t feel I had to apologise for being a playwright, that I wasn’t creating a career out of nepotism,” she says. “I was here on my own merits, so that was a brilliant moment.”

In Gut, McIntosh stars alongside Kirsty Stuart, George Anton and Peter Collins as devoted gran to her son’s three-year-old boy. When her son and his wife go off on their first trip together since her grandson’s birth, she makes a snap decision which shatters the parents’ trust in her.

Poet worked on Gut one day a week in the early days of her own son’s life.

“Most other days, I was having playdates,” she says. “You’d sit round with other parents and say: ‘What do you do when you go and get petrol? Do you leave them in the car or take them with you across the forecourt?’”

She continues: “Every step in these conversations was recalibrating whether our instincts, our first response, was right. Sometimes you’d be like: ‘They really do that? I wouldn’t do that.’”

On social media, Poet’s peers were sharing a breakfast TV feature on “stranger danger” in which nine out of 10 children were shown to go off with someone they didn’t know. The writer was beginning to understand the anxiety of her own over-protective father when he trailed her walks as a youngster growing up in rural Yorkshire.

“He had already lost a son from a previous marriage and because he had endured that horror, you could never question his view of the world,” explains Poet, who nevertheless questions the usefulness of magnifying parents’ already heightened fears in examples such as that TV item.

“At the end of the excerpt, this slightly inane presenter was like: ‘We’re not trying to scare you, we’re just keeping you informed,’” she says.

“And I thought: how is it better to be informed? This just breeds anxiety. Each of those parents had spoken to their child and felt they had taught the lesson of ‘stranger danger’. How better could they have taught it without scaring their child about human beings in general?”

In interrogating the fragile nature of trust, Gut touches on similar territory to psychological horror. Like every movie about zombies, toxic spores and mass viral outbreaks, when alienated, anxious people close in on themselves, and co-operation – the basis of society itself – begins to crumble.

Such wider issues are sure to be touched on when Poet joins director Zinnie Harris and social work professor Viviene Cree for the post-show discussions on May 3 (Traverse) and May 19 (Tron).

“I read a book called Paranoid Parenting and it said that parents report greater levels of anxiety now than what was reported in the 1970s or 1980s,” says Poet, referring to the 2002 book by sociologist Frank Furedi.

“His theory was about a breakdown in community and also that with the generation having children now, we feel that we have to be everything for our child: playfriend, educator, child-minder and so on.”

While abuse cases have sparked a vital shift whereby generations of parents are now more questioning about individuals, organisations and institutions, stifling children, she says, does not come without negative consequences.

“I read an article recently saying that children’s eyesight is becoming worse because they are not outside enough,” says Poet, who is also working on two more plays of her own.

“The more time I spend with this play the more I realise that it’s bigger than parenting. I think it goes back to that fight or flight response. It’s about stepping out into the world; that is the central question of the play.”

Apr 22 to May 12, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 7.30pm, May 10 and May 12 mats 2.30pm, £22, £11 to £18 concs. Tel: 0131 228 1404.

May 15 to May 19, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, 7.45pm, £15, £11 concs. Tel: 0141 552 4267. @FrancesPoet