YORK company Nightshade Productions return to the street night air from tomorrow to stage a "unique adaptation" of Sherlock Holmes: A Study In Scarlet.

The audience will follow Jane Wilberfoss (Sarah Kerr), a war-veteran doctor newly returned from Afghanistan, on her quest to reunite with her troubled friend Lady Josephina Carmicle (Rose Muirhead), who has sent her a desperate plea for help.

Applying their trademark combination of historical storytelling and immersive street theatre, Nightshade will bring to life the first meeting between Jane and her long-time companion Sherlock Holmes (Amy Whitrod Brown), the world’s only consulting detective. One is still haunted by conflicts past as she struggles to find meaning in a bleak Victorian city; the other is alone, addicted and alienated.

"In a world full of mystery and deceit, the truth of who Sherlock Holmes really was will finally be revealed," promises director Damian Freddi. So, note the female casting!

Sherlock Holmes: A Study In Scarlet will be a 90-minute immersive, promenade theatre performance through the streets of York, says Freddi, who also orchestrates the show's fight choreography.

Setting out at 7pm from the Golden Fleece Inn, off Parliament Street, the audience will follow the characters through an adventure filled with murder, intrigue, conspiracy and revenge as Nightshade Productions present Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story "as you've never seen it before."

The castwill be completed by Richard Thirlwall's Inspector Lestrade, David Zezulka's Sergeant Drebber and Daniel Gray's Alavon.

Six of the best questions for Nightshade Productions' founder and director, Damian Freddi

Who has written the adaptation and what characteristics of Conan Doyle’s story is the Nightshade production focusing on, Damian?

"I've written the adaptation and I chose to focus on the darker and seedier aspects of the Conan Doyle stories, while creating a fresh take on the original. The idea is that Conan Doyle's original is a romanticised retelling of a much darker original story that the audience never gets to see."

What qualities of Nightshade’s outdoor performance style best suit a Sherlock Holmes story?

"The obvious first quality is the immersion. The ability to send characters through the audience and from any angle lends a feeling of immediacy and dynamism to the performance that sits extremely well with the mystery/thriller genre. Essentially it allows the audience to feel that anything can happen. Also the historical backdrop of the city draws the audience into the scenes and makes them feel more real."

What route around York will the performance take and how long will it last?

"The performance will last an hour and a half with a 20-minute interval. For this production, we've chosen to stage most of the play in the Shambles market to create a more intimate and claustrophobic feeling. The shorter gaps between scenes also make the action seem more fast paced than in previous productions."

You have cast Amy Whitrod Brown as Sherlock. What is the thinking behind having a female Sherlock and what does that bring to the role?

"I wanted a new and interesting take to put forward on Sherlock. As a woman, Sherlock faces greater challenges than the character did as a man. Any achievement Sherlock makes is taken away from her. She is abused, exploited and ignored by those around her. Sherlock is fighting the very society she is trying to protect. This makes for a more tense, high-stakes experience."

Why does Sherlock Holmes continue to be so popular for adapting for stage,screen and the great outdoors?

"Sherlock is the ultimate puzzle. The character is smart enough to redefine physics or take over a government and yet, given the choice, decides to hunt criminals. I think Sherlock's obsession with crime reflects a darker part of humanity that we don't get to examine elsewhere. Sherlock always has to know, no matter what the cost.

"Sherlock is the embodiment of the part of us that can't help looking as we go past a car crash to see if anyone got hurt and that same fascination keeps bringing us back to the character, right up to today."

How directly will the audience be involved in the show?

"The audience are deliberately kept at arms' length during the show. Partly to give them the space to see the mystery unfold around them and partly because the large amount of stage combat in the show means that having the audience involved too much could be dangerous."

Nightshade Productions present Sherlock Holmes: A Study In Scarlet, meeting outside Golden Fleece Inn, Pavement, York, nightly from July 26 to August 13, 7pm. Tickets: £15, concessions £10, under-16s £8, at the York Theatre Royal box office, on 01904 623568 or at yorktheatreroyal.co.uk.

Please note, some scenes contain violence, so this production may be unsuitable for children aged under seven.