Written by actor and playwright Sam Shepard, Curse of the Starving Class (1977) examines a family tragedy. Set in a farmhouse in the Western United States, follows an interesting family. Although they have enough to eat, they don't have enough to satiate some of their other needs. The mother is an unkempt mess; the father is a drunk; the daughter is precocious; and the son is a deranged idealist. In hopes of getting more, the family puts their farm house up for sale. However, things end very badly and the family certainly does not end up better off. Rather, they languish in their misfortune and in the bad things that have happened to them.
At release, Curse of the Starving Class received incredibly solid reviews. The New York Times called the play a "seminal family drama." Other reviewers cited the plays acting and its "absorbing, intense, and thought-provoking" writing were strong points of the play. Initially, the play was produced in London, where it was well-received. It later premiered Off-Broadway in 1978 and was revived several times Off-Broadway throughout the 1980s and early 2000s.
Curse of the Starving Class was also adapted into a film of the same name in 1994. Directed by J. Michael McClary and starring James Woods and Kathy Bates, the film received middling reviews.