The evening begins with a bang. The deceptive calm of a family restaurant, filled with two disgruntled customers and an inept waitress, is disrupted by offstage sounds of war and destruction. The real disruption begins with the entrance of the Colonel, a middle-aged brute of a man wearing the medals and uniform of a commander, who wheels on Stubbs, a mute paraplegic veteran who served with the Colonel's son. According to the Colonel, they have come "to toast the death of my son and have a nice dessert." While the customers, named only White Man and White Woman, and the waitress, Glory Bee, watch, the Colonel dominates and tyrannizes the stage. Stubbs slowly regains the power of speech and memory, and the tables turn when he reveals his enormous battle scar and hints that he is the Colonel's son. In increasingly bizarre and violent scenes, including a whipping and a food fight, STATES OF SHOCK reaches its shattering conclusion.
A wild and scathing anti-war play whose characters embody the conflicts and violent contradictions of America today. Set in a nondescript family restaurant, with bad service and raging customers, the stage becomes a battlefield for America's strident efforts to define itself. Before the action is over, Shepard's anti-war message is not merely confined to Vietnam, but also encompasses the local wars of modern life between sexes, races, families and ideals. "STATES OF SHOCK is…written with the earnest…conviction that the stage is still an effective platform for political dissent and mobilizing public opinion." —NY Times. "Shepard has Harold Pinter's absurdist gift for seeing the comic possibilities of inexplicablility while still linking them to unnamed horror." —NY Post.