@ Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sun 3 Jan 2016

First published in 1950, CS Lewis’ fantastical tale of four children evacuated from a war-torn city and their adventures in a new and strange country is still heartbreakingly topical. Themes of separation from family, trust, displacement and the struggle to restore order and warmth to a landscape frozen with fear echo the stories filling news media just now.

The children – Edmund, Lucy, Peter and Susan – find themselves at the country residence of the Professor, amusing themselves with a game of hide and seek on rainy days on which they discover the portal to Narnia. This enchanting production brings the well-loved tale to a fourth generation of children.

The main protagonist, Lucy is played with a welcome lack of saccharine and much believable strength by Claire-Marie Seddon. Cristian Ortega’s sulking/repentant Edmund leaps straight off the pages of the novel. Peter and Susan (James Rottger and Charlotte Miranda Smith) are played with understated depth. Aslan is probably the coolest dreadlocked Lion ever to rule the stage, portrayed by Ben Onwukwe, who also prowls the house as the dusty Professor. Pauline Knowles’ vocal warmth infuses her White Witch with haughtiness rather than chill, though it may have worked for the children. Ewan Donald’s fearfully complete shift between his Mr Tumnus/Maugrim is scary. Gail Watson’s Mrs Mcready is presented as more of a comedy character than as a mirror of the Witch in the book, but the laughs are effective. Father Christmas appears in all his finest American red livery, which is, of course, what modern audiences are used to seeing.

The work of the technical and creative teams surpass expectations and any mis-timed sound effects will surely be ironed out over the run. Costumes are fabulous, particularly the Beavers and the Witch, though a merchandising trick may have been missed as the beautiful fake furs are thoroughly suitable for a chilly Edinburgh winter. The sets are a sheer delight, pure imaginative, hide and seek, let’s go on a bear hunt fun. The lighting enhances the sense of chill and the thrilling battle climax. Kudos is due to Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour for songs and incidental music, which weave into the drama so seamlessly it might have always been there.  The unsettling lyrics of the final song, however, are a repetitive and somewhat schmaltzy message to “just believe”, somehow trumping the Professor’s earlier argument about the importance of logic in discerning truth from lies. As it is Christmas, the power of belief literally gets the last word.

Directed by Andrew Panton with more dignity than last year’s IKEA-bland interpretation of The BFG, this production is visually sumptuous, and like a well-judged portion of Turkish Delight, gloriously satisfying in its sweetness; a true Christmas treat to cheer us through the darkest days of winter.