Irish puppeteer. Eugene Lambert by the early 1960s had already a certain reputation as a ventriloquist and was performing in clubs and Variety theatres in Ireland and the UK (see Variety and Music Hall, Ventriloquism). He remained an outstanding ventriloquist throughout his life, but also, without any specific background or training, turned towards puppets. He and his wife built up their family company in which each of their ten children participated as soon as they were old enough.

In 1965, the Lamberts were engaged by Ireland’s first and only television channel and for a few years presented a children’s marionette programme in Irish every week called Murphy agus a chairdhe (Murphy and His Friends). Between 1968 and 1982, they had a hugely successful series called Wanderley Wagon, which combined puppets and actors (including Eugene Lambert himself) and was the programme in which chromakey was first used in Ireland. This show allowed Lambert the possibility of amassing enough capital to realize his great dream of opening his own puppet theatre.

In 1970, he bought a large house in Monkstown, a Dublin suburb, and established a puppet theatre in the mews at the rear. At the same time over some twenty years the company set off almost every day in a van to give shows in the four corners of Ireland, often presenting two or three shows in the course of the day. The Lamberts have always played mainly for children with a repertoire ranging from Oscar Wilde stories to Aladdin, Cinderella, Sinbad, Hansel and Gretel and the Three Little Pigs. They have developed very high skills of puppet making and great attention is given to lighting, music and the scenic aspects of the show, which still remains firmly within the domain of popular puppetry and ensures the active role of the audience.

(See Ireland.)