A fun musical about the horrors of Auschwitz sounds like an oxymoron.

But the writers and producers of the Life and Death Orchestra have created a powerful new work, which premiered at Komedia on Holocaust Memorial Day.

With a first half based on daily life in Auschwitz and the second about the present-day tragedy of Darfur, the musical trod a fine line between the horrors of genocide and the optimism of the human spirit.

The story mainly revolved around Holocaust survivor Tadeusz Borowsky (Beth Morgan). The show's epic song, This Way For The Gas Ladies and Gentlemen, was adapted from his tale of an ordinary day in Auschwitz.

Other characters included Polish deputy Kapo (Ross Gurney-Randall), who was forced to work in the gas chambers, Borowsky's girlfriend Maria Rundo (Adele Ziz), Micheline Maurel (Angi Mariani), and the artist Arnold Daghani (Guy Picot) and his wife Nanino (Jenny James), the sole survivors of Mikhailowka forced labour camp. These last two later emigrated to the UK, becoming residents of Hove.

The show also featured Joan (Kerry Mclean) playing a Darfur refugee.

Composer Bill Smith believes Borowsky's account to be one of the great works of world literature. "Even though prisoners were not complicit in these barbaric acts, Tadeusz Borowsky felt immense guilt," he said.

Although the characters were based on real people the words they spoke were drawn from many sources, including their own texts.

Written by Smith, Guy Picot and Angi Mariani with music by Smith and Bim Sinclair, the score was performed by the Brighton Youth Orchestra conducted by Andrew Sherwood, and the Rainbow Chorus.

Far from a superficial sing-along musical, this was a performance that treated its audience like intelligent people concerned with real issues.