THERE isn't a deerstalker or a violin in sight in this thoroughly appealing comedy from local professional troupe Black Cherry Company.

It starts at 221B Baker Street, where Sherlock Holmes hears about the untimely deaths that have befallen successive heirs to Montacute House in Dartmoor. Dr Watson, feeling underappreciated by the world's greatest detective, heads off to investigate alone.

But don't expect to sere the umpteenth parody of the Sherlock Holmes stories. This production instead puts the characters into a series of comic setpieces of varying relevance to the mystery, some of which are practically standalone sketches.

The cast of four, playing 20 characters, often address the audience apologetically in a way that might remind you of The Play That Goes Wrong, while some of the skits are distinctly Pythonesque. And with jokes about a character whose name is Blind Man and a butler called Fetchmoore, the spirit of Abbott and Costello's Who's On First routine is as close to hand as that of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

A lively cast – Ollie Blake as Holmes, Jonathan Davis as Watson, plus Mark Haines and Holly Spillar – each get some fine moments, and the show is funniest when they break the fourth wall and even seem to leave the script behind. Some physical humour with drink and a salad vegetable got some particularly big laughs on the first night.

There is the odd joke that doesn't quite land, but this is a highly engaging evening of silliness.

  • Holmes & Watson continues tonight (Thursday) and Saturday, while Friday sees Black Cherry Improv at the Shelley Theatre.