Tuesday 27 September 2016

Iconic puppet theatre 'extensively damaged' in suspected arson attack

Sasha Brady

Published 01/09/2015 | 20:05

Fire damage at the Lambert Puppet Theatre, Liam Lambert who runs the theatre with one of the original Judge puppets. The blaze broke out just before 9pm last Friday night .
Picture by Fergal Phillips
Fire damage at the Lambert Puppet Theatre, Liam Lambert who runs the theatre with one of the original Judge puppets. The blaze broke out just before 9pm last Friday night . Picture by Fergal Phillips
Fire damage at the Lambert Puppet Theatre. The blaze broke out just before 9pm last Friday night Picture by Fergal Phillips
Fire damage at the Lambert Puppet Theatre. The blaze broke out just before 9pm last Friday night . Picture by Fergal Phillips
Fire damage at the Lambert Puppet Theatre. The blaze broke out just before 9pm last Friday night . Picture by Fergal Phillips

The iconic Lambert Theatre has suffered extensive damage in a fire during a suspected arson attack.

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The blaze at the Monkstown theatre, famous for producing RTE's Bosco, broke out just before 9pm on Friday night.

The fire appears to be deliberate and gardai in Dun Laoghaire are investigating the matter.

There was extensive smoke damage to the upper floor and a number of puppets were damaged during the blaze.

Deansgrange Fire Brigade has been praised for their rapid response to the fire.

Theatre director Liam Lambert said:  "We were lucky the fire brigade arrived so soon. I can't praise them enough."

"They did a great job at containing the fire but it's still a massive setback for us."

"We had planned on doing five shows just before Christmas. The Christmas shows are always popular. We'd hoped to run Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White and more but the damage is just too extensive. We have to let a lot of people down."

Each puppet takes about 60 hours to design and considerate attention to detail is required for the intricate carvings, costumes and jewellery.

Some of the Christmas show puppets have been 15 years in the making.

The oldest puppets in the museum date back to 1850 and Mr. Lambert has said that "it will take a number of years to fix the damage that was caused."

The theatre receives no state funding and relies solely on theatre-goers to stay in business.

"We have to go on." said Mr. Lambert.

"It is an unfortunate situation and we're all understandably very upset. We have a small team of four here and we will all work together to get everything back on track."

The Lambert Puppet Theatre was founded in 1972 is the only dedicated puppet theatre in Ireland and regarded by many as a Dublin institution.

The previous owner, Eugene Lambert, was famous throughout Ireland for his portrayal of the character O'Brien in RTE's children's series Wanderly Wagon.

He died in 2010 at the age of 81 but his son Liam keeps his legacy alive through his work with the theatre.

The theatre is also famous for producing the children's television programme Bosco throughout the late 1970's and 1980's.

The opening ceremony was presided over by broadcaster Gay Byrne and comedienne Maureen Potter in 1972 and actors such as Frank Kelly, Donal McCann and Bill Golding have all lent their voices to some of the theatre's earlier shows.

The theatre will re-open for business this Saturday and they hope to run with one show, instead of the planned five, this Christmas.

"If all goes well we will begin the Aladdin performance from early November. There's a lot of work to get done but we'll carry on."

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