IT IS one of life’s great pleasures – but it can also be a source of worry, confusion and even distress.

Sex is the core subject of Catalan director Calixto Bieito’s new production, in which a real string ensemble – The Heath Quartet – and four actors share a stage.

One of the performers is Miltos Yerolemou, whose high-profile credits include Star Wars and Game Of Thrones.

At the time of talking to The Argus Miltos and his fellow actors has only been working with Calixto for a few days, so he is still getting up to speed with the themes and aims of the unorthodox show.

Before we get to the matter of sex, mental health is on the agenda. Calixto has said that String Quartet’s Guide is an attempt to investigate where anxiety and depression comes from, and Miltos concurs.

“There is this exploration of how we cope in a world that is making us more and more anxious and desperate and ill,” he says. “We’ve all had experiences of mental health issues, directly and indirectly, whether it’s just a worry about a loved one or a full blown illness.” Miltos adds that the production will try and “map that spectrum” – from everyday concerns to “extreme cases” of anxiety.

It’s undeniable that our sexuality is wrapped up in our identity and how we see ourselves. In this sense, says Miltos, sex is an obvious theme to explore on the road to self-discovery.

“Sexuality and anxiety go hand in hand,” he says. “That link is about as universal as it gets. It’s about what makes us tick. What does it mean to have a healthy sex life, for example?

“Does that mean it has to be vanilla, or are we allowed to have our kinks? We try to be open about sex and we are becoming more and more so, but it’s still a very personal thing. I don’t think we’ll ever change that.”

Because of some of the hard-hitting subjects he has tackled in his work, Calixto has been described as the stage equivalent to Quentin Tarantino.

Despite only having spent a short time working with Calixto, Miltos can see that his artistic concerns are broader than they may at first appear.

“As Calixto says, ‘everyone keeps going on about the fact I’m a sex and violence director, but I don’t think I am, these things are universal’” says Miltos. “At the moment I’m hanging on every word that comes out of his mouth. He’s trying to pose existential questions but touch on intimate topics.”

If sex has traditionally been an awkward issue to talk about, even with those close to us, The String Quartet’s Guide might make some audience members squirm in their seats. According to Miltos, this is part of the point of the production.

“It’s safe to say that Calixto wants to question and challenge his audience,” says the actor. “I think it will make them reflective, and, if we’ve done our jobs right, it will make them uncomfortable too.

“You can’t deal with these things in a comfortable way. We’re going to be feeling that as actors and we’re not going to let the audience off the hook.”

While String Quartet’s Guide won’t be an easy watch, it may just help us to understand the mysteries of sex and anxiety that little bit more.

Edwin Gilson

The String Quartet’s Guide To Sex And Anxiety

Theatre Royal Brighton, Wednesday, May 23 and Thursday 24, 7.30pm,