The musical drama, Once Upon a War based on the book by Denise Coffey, focuses on a family who choose to stay on the island of Jersey rather than flee to the safety of England, because their beloved Labrador cannot be evacuated with them.
With the play in two halves - depicting the family's life at the start of the occupation and then five years later - we watch the family grow up, with the younger actors being replaced by their older counterparts.
A picturesque scene of people on the beach opens the story and sets the tone for a play that is well acted, beautifully sung and slickly directed.
The general consensus is that you should never work with animals, but this production must be the exception.
With two dogs on stage - often at the same time, it could have been a recipe for disaster, but the dogs behaved themselves beautifully. They were so obedient and blasé about their role in the spotlight you'd think they'd been doing it for years!
This production by the Norfolk Youth Music Theatre stars 17-year-old Stephanie Moore in the pivotal role of Ellen. She gives an excellent performance as the mother struggling to hold her family together throughout the occupation.
Stephanie portrays the strain of living under the German occupation with great subtlety - with Ellen's pain resonating through her beautiful singing voice.
She skillfully swings between despair and anger, weariness and hope, showing a maturity beyond her years.
Of the youngsters, the young Georgina who gets separated from her mum during the evacuation, played by Sarah Carter particularly stands out in my mind.
The two boys, John-Richard (played by Harry Burt) and Harry (played by Richard Wilson) have a particularly good rapport with each other.
The scene in which they meet Annie-Mary and Sally after the curfew is delightful - the two girls giggle profusely with the gregarious teenage boys anxious to impress.
Director Adrian Connell has done a great job. Although there are more scene changes than an episode of EastEnders, they are slick. Although he plays on the pathos of the story, Connell is careful not to let it slide into sentimentality.
A few light-hearted scenes help bring some much needed relief to what is essentially quite a serious play. Most notably, I loved the scene when the Germans interrupt some boys playing cricket and demand that they be taught how to play.
The young John-Richard, played by Charlie Birchall, cheekily plays on the German officer's ignorance by making a complete fool of him. Credit to the boys for their comic timing.
The only drawback is that the music - although well performed by the orchestra - tended to drown out the singing, particularly of the younger actors.
I felt terribly frustrated when all I could hear was their playing and none of the singing, which is a shame as it's a great production.
Once Upon a War is showing at The Maddermarket Theatre from Wednesday 3-6 November, 2004