Anyone looking for a murder mystery with a distinct difference would be better pressed to find a better way to spend an evening than watching the Barn Theatre’s new production.

Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Fiend is a new ‘comedy adventure’ that plunges Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous literary detective right into the centre of one of real life’s greatest-ever monsters – Jack the Ripper.

You may be thinking to yourself quite how does that work? But the result is a deliberate tackling of how truth and disinformation can be employed to make fiction of real-life and monsters of human beings.

At the same time, the script by writers Toby Hulse and Ross Smith looks to expose the cliches in both Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper and take aim at true-crime dramas and other industries that exploit these dark examples of humanity at its worst.

It’s a lot to throw into a two-hour performance that the four actors responsible whiz through with gusto, all playing each character in the Sherlock Holmes central story on a revolving basis, as well as several side-characters in industries like walking tours, museums, and a Ripperologist online detective.

There are a lot of meta moments such as characters arguing over who gets to play which character in the next scene, one scene where every quintessentially Victorian London character makes a cameo as Sherlock walks down a street, characters reference the actors’ real names in fourth wall breaking and several other ‘wink-at-the-audience’ moments throughout.

As a result of all the character changing, all the metatextual theatrical performance stuff, and all the themes that the script tries to tackle, the quartet of Joseph Chance, Helen Foster, Phillip Pellew and Chloe Tennenbaum have so much weight on their shoulders that it’s hard to be completely impressed by all of them.

Their comic timing, ability to inhabit several different characters sometimes rather quickly, and their chemistry with each other help to make the whole thing undeniably funny and entertaining – with Tennenbaum the personal standout for me.

But, while a good time is inevitable, you can’t help but feel that the sheer volume of what Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Fiend attempts to say on top of the underlying fact that it’s an entertaining comedy means that somewhat counter-intuitively the show does succumb to the things it’s critiquing and some of these themes and messages do get lost.

It’s an interesting addition to the overall canon of Sherlock Holmes, but should people go out of their way to catch this? Well, I think that’s elementary! You absolutely should!