New York | 2h 30m | Ends Jun 02

Curse of the Starving Class

From 22 critic and 136 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the show

Last produced in NYC by Signature more than 20 years ago, this new production of "Curse of the Starving Class" honors Pulitzer Prize-winning Legacy Playwright Sam Shepard, who passed away in 2017.  More…

Living a stagnant, unhappy existence in rural California, the struggling Tate family is desperate for change, but every family member has a different way of trying to improve their station in life.



65
The New York Times

"Watching the very entertaining first half of Mr. Kinney’s interpretation of 'Curse,' I wondered why it doesn’t come around more often. I had stopped wondering by the end. 'Curse' features some beautiful, signature Shepard writing, in which primal desperation becomes fervid poetry...The plot, though, seems to thicken like clotting blood...We aren’t as rattled as we should be by the play’s more violent and congested second half." Full Review

65
The Observer

"May be overlong and lopsided, but still throws off sparks of that crazy Shepard vibe...Kinney’s staging is tight and propulsive, and he guides the actors to unlocking pure moments of animal magnetism...For the long (90-minute) first part of this production, Shepard’s black humor and the hard-working cast keep the gritty nonsense humming. It’s the final 40 minutes after intermission where things go truly bonkers and, sadly, dull." Full Review

65
Time Out New York

“Kinney and his cast find memorable moments in Shepard’s darkly satirical play...Time has diminished some...shock value and the Signature’s production doesn’t dig deeply enough into the feeling the play seems to be after: It doesn’t pulse with the agony of stunted existence. But Shepard’s potent writing, with its raw pain and rich symbolism, still resonates. Its depiction of a white rural family worried about losing its homestead...seems very much in step with the national mood.” Full Review

65
The Wrap

"Terry Kinney begins his solid revival of the 1978 Sam Shepard drama with a jolting coup de theatre...But aside from the onstage appearance of an adorable, scene-stealing lamb, the rest of Kinney’s production never quite matches the shock of its opening moments...There’s not a great deal of subtlety here, either in the performances or in Shepard’s often on-the-nose metaphors. As a result, the reversals of plot and character in the last act fail to deliver the impact they deserve." Full Review

65
Off Off Online

“A generally sturdy production that opts for some overly broad humor, diminishing the impact of the play’s turn to violent, grotesque tragedy. What should feel like a punch in the gut is more like a tap...The humor on display...is more in the vein of a particularly zany sitcom...In this production, one is too much aware of watching a play that is dealing with a set of themes. This reduces the ending’s emotional impact...We see the mess and the tragedy, but we don’t quite feel it.” Full Review

60
Theatermania

“The richness of the stagecraft in...Kinney's production feels obscene when one considers the story...These expensive-looking alterations are to the detriment of the script...This play about poor people shouldn't feel like it was art directed for Vogue. The performances vary...’Curse of the Starving Class’ is still brutally perceptive in its dreamlike depiction of American society, but it's hard to see that through the self-defeating opulence of this revival.” Full Review


69
Misfire, Great writing, Disappointing

See it if You don't mind a sub par revival of classic Sam Shepard play. The writing & themes still have value even in this somewhat anemic revival.

Don't see it if This is your first introduction to Sam Shepard.

60
Slow, Disappointing, Dated

See it if You are a fan of Sam Shepard's writing and are unfamiliar with this rarely produced play.

Don't see it if you prefer naturalism to absurdism.

Also Shepard once seemed the quintessential theatrical voice of the counter... Read more Read less

69
During previews
Disappointing, Intense, Excruciating

See it if These characters were to me obnoxious.While their characters were truly defined or not is being left to the viewer?Too much dysfunction for

Don't see it if IF YOU WANT TO SEE A FUNCTIONAL FAMILY IN A LOVING SURROUNDING.

Also me to really enjoy this play,however,i felt that the acting itself was... Read more Read less

69
During previews
Slow, muddy, miscast, disappointing.

See it if You want to hear a script that captures the essence of America with the power of Greek tragedy.

Don't see it if This is your first and only exposure to Shepard.

69
During previews
Too long, I wasn't able to connect with these characters, Quite disgusting and hard to watch at times, Extraordinary scenic design

See it if You enjoy seeing characters self-destruct.

Don't see it if You don't have patience for crazy people doing crazy things.

Also After seeing True West earlier this year and now this, I've concluded ... Read more Read less

68
During previews
Acting could be better, Slow, Great set, Too many monologues, Disturbing

See it if you love everything Shepard (as I usually do); exceptional set; interest in an impoverished family trying to survive.

Don't see it if Don't appreciate dark, grim humor; not interested in how poverty affects the spirit, stomach & pocket; 1st act is long & slow; uneven acting

Also Best acting is from the refrigerator which conveys everything without ... Read more Read less

68
During previews
Really wanted to like this more

See it if you are a Sam Shepard completist and revel in dysfunctional family dynamics.

Don't see it if you are a Sam Shepard fan and are looking for cohesive style. For me the disparate acting choices were all over the map.

Also It just did not jell, which was a surprise coming from the estimable T... Read more Read less

68
During previews
Great set, Disappointing, Indulgent, Slow, Intense

See it if you like Sam Shepard's blend of dark humor, oversized emotions and heavy doses of metaphor and if you don't mind grossness and male nudity.

Don't see it if you only like plays with characters that are at least a tiny bit sympathetic and if you have a low tolerance for tedious monologues.

Also During the first minute, the wonderful set performs a transformation t... Read more Read less

66
During previews
Cliched, Ambitious, Slow, Quirky

See it if you are interested in the issues of the poor and the clash of the economic development with the rural classes.

Don't see it if if you are sensitive to alcoholism or abuse, or if you would not enjoy a play with unlikable characters.

66
During previews
Intelligent, Relevant, Disappointing, Cliched, Slow

See it if You want to see a thought provoking show & don’t mind it’s full of (bogged down with?) metaphors and takes its time getting to the point.

Don't see it if If you want a clear storyline or message or something fun and fluffy.

Also Moments of genius wrapped inside a LOT of hot air.

65
During previews
Diminishing returns, Could be trimmed by 1 hour, Repetitive & overwrought surrealism, Uneven cast, Set overpowers the play

See it if a powerful performance by G. Geary as the son. His transformation from Act 1 to 2 is very powerful and affecting. He's the best thing in it.

Don't see it if don't have patience for same metaphors being slammed into your face for a drawn out 2 1/2 hours. M. Siff & A. Rothenburg seem like amateurs.

65
During previews
Raunchy, Disappointing, Confusing, Dated, Great writing

See it if A little-seen Shepard. Funny writing. Thought-provoking. David Warshofsky gave a great performance.

Don't see it if Not one of his best. Maggie Siff was disappointing. The 2nd act was so gross, it was painful to watch.

65
During previews
Overrated, Indulgent

See it if Maybe it was cutting edge in its day but I found Starving Class to be full of unsubtle monologues and shock value excesses. Not for me.

Don't see it if Thought some of the acting was pretty awful and the direction not much better.

65
During previews
Interesting, Long, Great staging

See it if you're a fan of Sam Shepard's particular brand of family dynamics and drama.

Don't see it if you want a play with more nuance than people constantly screaming or are expecting more interesting acting.

65
During previews
“i saw myself infected with it. that’s how. i saw me carrying it around. his poison in my body.”

See it if Great staging of Shepard’s Pulitzer winning play. can you escape the starving class by starting over in Europe or Mexico?

Don't see it if dark lives of a dysfunctional American family... including many conversations around an empty fridge ;)

Also “Signature Theatre celebrates playwrights and gives them an artistic h... Read more Read less

64
During previews
Dated, Yelling, Great staging, Looooong

See it if You want to see a nice set reveal. It happens in the first 10 seconds and then there's not much else going on.

Don't see it if You want subtle acting choices because everyone is just constantly yelling. Also act 1 is v long at an hour 45 mins.

60
During previews
Slow, Overrated, Indulgent, Edgy

See it if You're a dyed-in-the-wool (get it?) Shepard fan!

Don't see it if Family dramas, screaming and a wisp of a plot scare you away.

Also I run hot and cold on Sam Shepard plays and this unfortunately is not ... Read more Read less

59
During previews
Crazy, nutsy, wild

See it if you like Shepard, if you like dysfunctional families, if you like insane dialogue. Interesting, wild imaginative set, lots to look at.

Don't see it if You dislike crazy families doing crazy things (yelling, throwing items, being pulled by a horse in the mud) all for no sane reason.

Also Two and a half long long hours. A few funny bits, but not enough.

58
During previews
First act too long, Lots of screaming, Quirky, Maybe this is a good production of this play, but i really did not enjoy the play, Great staging

See it if You want to see this Sam Shepard play if you never have, which is why I went to see it. I was very disappointed. Interesting set.

Don't see it if If you want a pleasant time. There is so much screaming, the characters are so strange that you really cannot care about them.

Also Such a long first act. I see that it is a three act play. In this prod... Read more Read less

69
During previews
Disappointing, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if You like Sam Shepard, the set design and the acting is incredible from mostly non-NY actors

Don't see it if You tire easily. The first act is long but action-packed. The play itself kind of goes off the rails in the final act.



Cast & Creatives (3)