Lambert Puppet Theatre to close

by Rebecca Ryan
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The Lambert Puppet Theatre in Monkstown is closing its doors after more than four decades.

The theatre is the home of iconic children’s TV programmes such as Bosco and Wanderly Wagon.

The decision to sell the building was as a result of increasing financial pressures.

Home to Ireland’s oldest puppet company, it was founded in 1972 by Eugene Lambert and his family and was officially opened by Gay Byrne.

The theatre’s director, Liam Lambert, who is Eugene’s son, told RTE’s Morning Ireland that the company took a hit during the recession.

He said: “When the crash happened, we were hit straight away. Our demographic, people with young children, were the first hit.

“60% of our turnover was from school tours and in the first year of the downturn that was cut in half.”

In 2015, the building was very badly damaged by an arson attack. 300 puppets were also destroyed in the blaze. The theatre was reopened by Liam Lambert who said it was an “enormous blow”.

In an emotional interview with Morning Ireland, he said another reason for selling the building is health concerns.

“You keep on going, but you do realise there is a point that you have to stop. It is extremely hard to be closing the theatre with all of its memories. I am sure it is going to affect an awful lot of people.”

Although The Lambert Puppet Theatre will be sold, it is hoped the business can continue as a touring company.

Eugene is remembered best for playing the character of O’Brien in the longrunning children’s TV show Wanderly Wagon. Sister of Liam, Paula Lambert, is the voice of another of the family’s best-known creations, Bosco, who is embarking on a national tour over the
coming months.

The news has sparked people sharing their memories of the loved theatre on social media with many sad to see its doors close.

One wrote: “Great childhood memories of things like Wonderly Wagon and the bus [and] puppet theatre that would come to our community every year and put on a show. And of course, Judge and Mr Crow everyone’s favourite,” said one.

Rachel, who remembers going to The Lambert Puppet Theatre when she was in school told Dublin Gazette she has fond memories of going there and she is sad to see it close.

She said: “It was a south Dublin institute and it will be sorely missed. It’s a shame the new generation won’t get to experience it.”

“That’s very sad. Probably has less relevance for current generation, but Lambert’s Wanderly Wagon, Judge, Mr Crow and Bosco influenced more contemporary puppeteers like for Zig & Zag and Dustin the Turkey. Hopefully it can remain in existence as a touring company,” said RonanB.

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