This Obie Award-winning play takes you right into the living room of a post-apocalyptic holiday. Liza, Lupe, Jeep and Shooter are trapped in a cold, isolated cabin after a mysterious “crisis.” Time has passed since the days of mass-media and indoor plumbing and they are struggling to pull off a holiday meal. Limited food, an uncertain future and overwhelming boredom begin to take their toll with disturbing and absurd results.

Performance History

First performed at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in October 1974. Directed by Nancy Meckler.

It had its American premiere at NY's American Place Theatre on April 15,1974 in a double bill with "Killer's Head".  Directed by Nancy Meckler.

It was revived at the Magic Theater in San Francisco in the spring of 1975. Directed by Sam Shepard.


Clive Barnes, NY Times (April 16, 1975):
Mr. Shepard is among the most original voices writing in the theater today... "Action" is a far more considerable piece [than "Killer's Head]. In fact, its bleakness reminds one of Harold Pinter, very slightly, and, particularly, of Samuel Beckett, with the same kind of nihilistic humanism.

John Elsom, The Listener (September 26, 1974):
"Action" is an apparently inconsequential collection of images, it is neatly pessimistic and most of its effects have been tried often enough before. Do we need another play about the downfall of civilisation and man's inability to communicate? There are, however, qualities about Shepard's writing which are not easily found elsewhere. One is his dry sense of humour... Another is Shepard's musical sense, the way in which he balances one sound against another."

Harold Clurman, The Nation (May 3, 1975):
I wish I understood "Action" more clearly. It is the most abstract of any of Mr. Shepard's plays that I've seen, and it must, I suppose, be considered in abstract terms. The themes, I think, are restraint or captivity and fear and sudden release. One of the men says he has been to prison, but who knows? All we can tell is that each of the men seems to be his own prisoner. The mystery, never solved or demonstrated, is what is going on in those bald heads. I don't know. I don't know what went on in Sam Shepard's head. Some authors may have earned the right to be taken on trust, and the enigmatic Mr. Shepard - after "Chicago," "The Unseen Hand," and "The Tooth of Crime" - is one of them. Baffling as it is, "Action" is frequently funny and playful, and it holds one's attention to the end.

Ben Brantley, NY Times (February 10, 1997):
The play's opening lines, delivered by a man named Jeep, say much about Mr. Shepard's distinctive notion of character: ''I'm looking forward to my life. I'm looking forward to, uh, me. The way I picture me.'' Mr. Shepard is also, thank goodness, an outlandishly entertaining showman who balances his wordiness with opportunities for bold physical comedy and gut-grabbing effects