Lambert Puppet Theatre to be sold

By Donal O’Keeffe

The Lambert Puppet Theatre in Monkstown, Co Dublin, home to beloved childhood characters such as Bosco, Judge, and Mr Crow, is to be sold, sources close to the Lambert family have told the Irish Examiner.

The Lambert Puppet Theatre, which is located on substantial premises, had been closed this summer, and attempts to contact Liam Lambert, who has owned the theatre since 2010, proved unsuccessful.

Some members of the Lambert family are understood to be “very unhappy” at the decision to sell the premises.

The Lambert Puppet Theatre was founded in 1972 by puppeteer Eugene Lambert, with his wife Mai. Mr Lambert was a regular fixture on RTÉ from the early 1960s, devising and producing the puppet series Murphy agus a Chairde, and he co-created and co-starred in Wanderly Wagon (1967-1982).

Wanderly Wagon proved a favourite with generations of Irish children. The magical caravan was piloted by the cowardly O’Brien, played by Lambert, and the kindly Godmother, played by Nora O’Mahoney, and was populated by puppets such as Judge, Mr Crow, and the Squirrels, voiced by the 10 Lambert children. Frank Kelly played recurring villain Doctor Astro, and his sidekick Ssneaky Ssnake.

Eugene Lambert died in 2010, aged 81, and the theatre passed to his son Liam.

The puppet theatre had to be extensively rebuilt following an August 2015 arson attack.

Bill Golding, who played Wanderly Wagon’s original lead, Rory, said he was “profoundly sorry” to hear of the planned sale.

“I simply cannot imagine Dublin history or theatre without the Lambert family. I really hope this is not the end of the puppet theatre,” he said.

Conor Lambert, owner of Carrick-on-Shannon-based company Custard Pie Puppets, said a call from the Irish Examiner was the first he had heard of the sale.

“I’m very disappointed, and I can only hope the proceeds will go toward a new theatre,” he said. “It was Wanderly Wagon that built that place.

"And it was all of us who built it. I think puppetry in Ireland is overdue a revival, and with my own puppetry, I try to keep my father’s legacy alive. I’ll just have to try that bit harder now."

Attempts to contact Miriam Lambert, who works independently as a puppeteer, were unsuccessful.

Paula Lambert, who plays the puppet Bosco, and who begins a nationwide tour in October, said she did not have sufficient information to comment.

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