VICTORIAN London comes to life on stage at the Wyvern Theatre, in a sumptuous and moving performance of that best loved of musicals, the tale of the boy who dared to ask for more.

Oliver – performed by this year’s Summer Youth Project – is a triumph. From the opening bars to the deserved standing ovation and uproarious applause at the close, this is a show you don’t want to miss.

The musical, with music and lyrics by Lionel Bart, is based upon the classic novel by Charles Dickens, taking us on a journey from a Victorian workhouse into London’s criminal underworld, in a search for love, family and home. It is the story of orphan Oliver, who is sold into the service of an undertaker, bullied and mistreated, and finally runs away to the streets of London - where he finds shelter among a gang of plucky pickpockets, led by the charismatic Fagin.

Directed and choreographed by Maggie Rawlinson, it is hard to imagine how they could have achieved such a polished performance within the two-week time-frame of the Summer Youth Project.

All the principal actors are impressive. Ten-year-old SYP newcomer Cory White plays Oliver, with just the right mix of vulnerability and spirit that makes him such an appealing hero. Michael Kerr plays an appropriately cheeky Dodger, while Rhea Thorpe is a charismatic Nancy, giving a stirring rendition of As Long As He Needs Me.

Tom Keen’s Mr Sowerberry and Chloe Crawford as Mrs Sowerberry offer an appropriately comedic gothic turn as the undertaker husband and wife – both young actors particularly good at using movement and posture for effect. Marcellus Hill plays Bill Sikes, and shows real singing talent tackling Sikes’s keynote song, My Name, with a powerful air of menace.

Toby Kearney and Phoebe Jerman are a great team as Mr Bumble and Widow Corney, supervising the orphans at the workhouse, while Archie Fisher, 16, gives a real stand-out performance as Fagin. Singing, speaking, dancing, moving – Archie is the complete package and no doubt in years to come this young actor will be going on to great things.

But the entire cast was amazing – from the ragged orphans at the beginning, to the rose seller and milk maids, from the pickpockets in Fagin’s den, to the Londoners filling the stage. Even with a cast of around 150, with huge set pieces such as Who Will Buy, when the stage and balcony and aisles thronged with dancing chimney sweeps, Bow Street Runners, school children, shoppers and passers-by, the energy was infectious, but the performance was polished and controlled.

Great set, professional musicians, lovely costumes and terrific performances - please sir, I want some more.

Be sure to book soon as tickets are selling fast, with performances on Friday at 4pm and 8pm, and Saturday at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. Tickets are £14-£15.50. To book, call 01793 524481 or visit - Sarah Singleton