Should you mention Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to anyone under the age of 30 (maybe 40?), it is highly likely that pictures of Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman will be conjured in their mind.

While I am a fan of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’s reinvention of the characters, I still have images of Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce in my head thanks to re-runs in the 1970s, when I was a child.

In the years before and since, there has been a multitude of other interpretations for stage and screen, both of individual writings and of the entire series of four novels and the host of short stories that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle penned about his great detective.

As each version of his magnificent tales is presented, it becomes harder for any adaptation to tread new ground - to inspire an audience with something fresh.

This is perhaps the greatest success of writer and director Nick Lane’s version for Blackeyed Theatre, which has been running at Theatre Royal, Windsor this week.

In the characters’ costume and delivery, the production is firmly rooted in late-Victorian London and the Indian Raj. The technique of presentation uses more modern methods.

The sparse set is made of grey angled and arched scenery, much of it moveable. Octagonal and rectangular shapes become tables and a riverside quay, pointed pillars become the Agra fort and a boat for the chase along the Thames.

There is mist blown in for the foggy exterior scenes in London and the humid haze of India. To add to this carefully constructed atmosphere, four of the cast of six play appropriate musical instruments to signal changes in setting.

Luke Barton and Joseph Derrington make a convincing pair as Holmes and Watson. Holmes’ drug abuse, playing of the violin, and sheer pedantry are done justice here, but not dwelled upon unnecessarily. Watson’s admiration for their client Mary Morstan (played by Stephanie Rutherford) is a carefully managed sub-plot.

The crescendo of the production is provided by the chase on the river, while the coda of Jonathan Small’s recounting of events in India comes across better than it does in the original text.

The continual switching of roles by Stephanie Rutherford, Christopher Glover, Ru Hamilton and Zach Lee is impressive, and the fact that you can see them sitting in the half-light behind the steel-like structures of the set, waiting to come on, adds to the atmosphere.

This is a production to be enjoyed by all those who are fascinated by the events in the life of our friends from 221B Baker Street.

Nick Hunter

Sherlock Holmes: The Sign Of Four at the Theatre Royal, Windsor until Saturday. Box office 01753 853888.