STEPHAN Kreiss is currently fulfilling a childhood dream.

Not starring in a major production at a world-renowned arts event – he’s been to Brighton Festival numerous times with his long-running comedy troupe Spymonkey.

Not travelling around the world performing shows to rapt audiences – again, he’s been there, done that.

No, the box Stephan has finally ticked is being in a rock group. “As a kid I always wanted to be in a band,” he laughs. “Half a century later I am.”

It’s thanks to his role in Problem In Brighton, the musical production written and directed by festival guest director David Shrigley.

The show follows Problem In Toulouse and Problem In New York, and its creator describes it as a “rock-pop pantomime”.

It features one-string guitars, specially designed from Shrigley’s illustrations, and blends together theatre, storytelling and live music – earplugs are advised.

For Stephan, who lives in Vienna, the production is something completely new. The comedian was last seen at the festival in Spymonkey’s The Complete Deaths in 2016, an extraordinary feat of physical theatre which saw the group re-enact every fatality in the works of Shakespeare.

He says Problem In Brighton isn’t driven by a linear plot, as such, but it contains a number of twists and turns as it flits between various modes of performance.

“It’s a cake baked with unusual ingredients,” he says. “There is a lot of off-the-wall-stuff.” Stephan revisits a memory from his youth to help describe the delights on offer in the show.

“Nowadays kids have PlayStations and smartphones but when I was young there were these bags you could buy in shops with lots of different toys in them.

“It was a bag full of surprises – when you open it up you are like, ‘oh my God’. It has lots of fun stuff inside it. That’s like the narrative of the show. There’s lots happening. It’s like, ‘woah, wait until you see the next thing’”.

Despite its name, Problem In Brighton is not specifically based in or on the city, adds Stephan, although he concedes that Shrigley may have taken some subliminal inspiration from his hometown along the way. Stephan is full of praise for this year’s guest director and what he wants to achieve in his show.

“It’s rock gig but you have to understand all of the lyrics because they are fantastic,” says Stephan. “They are witty, funny, wise – that all comes across.”

Most of the singing in Problem In Brighton is left to Scottish actor Pauline Knowles, who has a “wonderful voice” according to Stephan. “I’m not a very good singer,” he adds.

The comedian sticks mostly to spoken word in the show, but he has been part of the rehearsal process for the band – which has included stints at local studio Brighton Electric.

“It’s like being in a proper rock and roll band,” says Stephan. “We go in and out every night with cases of guitars, it’s like the lifestyle of a band.”

As for the tailored guitars, they sound like nothing you’ve ever heard. “It’s quite a unique sound,” says Stephan. “The group is made of really good musicians and they can produce amazing stuff using just one string. Sometimes there are seven people all playing one string at a time and it sounds great.”

While Problem In Brighton is undoubtedly Shrigley’s vision – he admitted recently it had been keeping him up at night – the artist is more than happy for Stephan and the cast to pitch in their ideas.

“He likes to get our input,” says Stephen. “He’s open to people’s suggestions and changing things.”

Stephan has very fond memories of the Brighton Festival, and says it was “lovely to kick off” The Complete Deaths at the Theatre Royal. It’s since toured around the world.

Such a frenetic show must have been quite draining over time, I suggest. “It was very frantic, but you get used to it,” he says. “We are getting on age-wise, so if we did eight shows a week we would get tired walking down the stairs after shows. It’s demanding. We’re still around though, so...”

Spymonkey are planning to take the production out on the road again in 2019, but for now Stephen has got his hands full. He’s relishing every minute of Shrigley’s unorthodox pantomime.

“It’s an exciting rollercoaster,” he says. “I love it.”

Problem In Brighton

Brighton Festival, The Old Market, Hove, Thursday, May 10, to Saturday 12,