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Gerry's Lambo set to make stage debut

IT was the story that Gerry Ryan used to grip a nation -- a brutal killing, an RTE presenter's career hanging in the balance and Dail Eireann trying to quell the sense of national outrage.

And now the infamous story of Lambo is being resurrected for the stage as part of Project Art Centre's mini festival, The Theatre Machine Turns You On: Vol 3.

The late Gerry Ryan became a household name when, along with a group of volunteers on a survival course for The Gay Byrne Show, he claimed to have clubbed a small lamb to death with a rock, and then eaten it. It was the Irish nation's first taste of reality broadcasting and listeners were riveted as Gerry told Gaybo how he had apparently feasted on the dead lamb's flesh.

And, unsurprisingly, the usual complaints began to pour in.

Of course, it all turned out to be nothing more than a hoax, but Gerry was dubbed Lambo, in honour of the hit film Rambo, after the incident.

Ronan Phelan (30) is directing the new play, and says that the Lambo story and Gerry have always fascinated him.

"Like most Irish people, I found and still find Gerry a fascinating subject," Ronan told the Herald.

"I'd heard about Lambo on Reeling In The Years, but I don't think my generation really knew the details or connected with the story. I wanted to put the whole incident in context."

Phelan says he was interested in exploring the different sides of Gerry's personality.

"It's Lambo, but from Gerry Ryan's perspective," he explains.

The one man show was written by Hugh Travers, and tells of this pivotal moment in Gerry's career.

"It's the story of how Gerry became a name, how he became a celebrity," Phelan says.

At the time of the Lambo incident, Gerry had said he feared losing his job. "I consciously told a lie," Gerry said. "And RTE felt that in telling lies I had endangered one of their most prized possession, the jewel in their crown -- The Gay Byrne Show."

Gerry's eldest son Rex (23) is training to be an actor at The Gaiety School of Acting but Phelan decided not to cast him as Gerry.

"I didn't cast Rex as he's still in acting school and developing as an actor. I don't think there is anything in the play that Rex or the Ryan family would object to," he said.

Instead Dublin actor Michael Ford Fitzgerald (32), who starred in Leap Year, will play the lead role.

Lambo runs at the Project Arts Centre on January 9 at 6pm.