Trinity Players, a community theater, has opened its fourth season with a challenge: staging the Royal Shakespeare Company production of "Sherlock" with its five sets, large cast, and demand for stylish performances.

The Players, under the direction of Patricia Sheehy, have undertaken the task with enterprise and imagination.

The result is an entertaining evening of theater within the limits of a nonprofit group with volunteeer actors and staff.

In the roles that John Wood and Philip Locke had in the "Sherlock" at Kennedy Center several years ago, C. Linwood Duncan and Joseph Scolaro give creditable performances as Sherlock Holmes and Prof. Moriarty.

Scolaro turns Moriarty into a villain of chilling, controlled malevolence without the touch of mad genius in Locke's portrayal. It works well, especially when played against Duncan's Holmes, a more intense, emotional Sherlock than that of Wood, who stretched his long legs and caught the cerebral detective's boredome assuaged by a shot of a 7-per cent solution of cocaine.

Jaynie Simmons gives a hard-edged performance as the cold, calculating Maude Larrabee and Carole Steinhoff is an appealing damsel in distress as Alice Faulkner.

Elena Matte has used ingenuity in creating five sets on a limited budget, and has come up with a dark dungeon of an office for Moriarty and a frightening gasworks chamber. Jean Keppler's costumes are quite handsome.

The performance moves crisply. There are some nice touches. Among the art loot stashed in Moriarty's hideaway is the National Gallery's Fragonard of the young woman reading. When Holmes and Moriarty confront each other in the detective's apartment for the first time, each warily lowers himself into a chair, waiting for the other to reach his level.

The Trinity Players production of William Gillette's "Sherlock" will run through Saturday at the Trinity Theater, 36th and O Streets NW, with performances at 8 p.m.