© By Stewart Parker
Spokesong is set in a Belfast bicycle shop, owned by Frank Stock, who dreams of reviving interest in cycling in his native city. The city fathers, however, are not convinced. Spokesong is told with the aid of flashbacks, trick cyclists and juggling.
FRANK: You can look out from my shop straight up a hill that’s a main route into the city centre. Every morning, down they come, roaring and tumbling headlong—the commuters—the gabardine swine. They get to the intersection at the bottom—and immediately turn into a snarling, writhing, ravelled-up knot of ulcerous vindictiveness. We shouldn’t be promoting that. We should be outlawing it. The time has come to rediscover the faithful bicycle.
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‘Spokesong’, along with much of Stewart Parker’s work, dealt with the religious warfare that has kept Northern Ireland a battleground for most of this century.
Dublin Theatre Festival
The play had its premiere at the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1975 and was produced in London the next year. In the United States, it starred Joseph Maher and John Lithgow. It was presented at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven in 1978 and then at Circle in the Square.
Richard Eder, The New York Times: “nothing I know has approached so closely an artistic vision of the subject.” Billed as ‘‘a play with music,’’ it used the conceit of the history of the bicycle to mirror the conflict in Mr. Parker’s country’.