The curse of Macbeth? Sir Kenneth Branagh 'injures' actor during onstage fight

Chaotic opening battle of production ends in
hospital visit as real swords and mud used

It is said to be bad luck to say the name of “the Scottish Play” aloud. And perhaps an unfortunate actor did just that while playing opposite Sir Kenneth Branagh in his acclaimed production of Macbeth in Manchester.

A cast member had to be taken to hospital after he was genuinely wounded in the dramatic opening scenes, which involve the use of real, clashing swords to depict a full-blooded battle.

Reports from the audience said that the injured actor was “fighting” with Sir Kenneth at the time, but organisers said the chaotic nature of the scene meant they could not confirm whether or not this was the case.

On-site medics treated what was described as a “minor injury” before the actor returned to the performance. After the curtain dropped he was taken to hospital “as a precaution”, according to a statement from the Manchester International Festival company.

They added that the actor was not one of the “big stars” of the production, which is mostly set in a muddy ditch at the front of a deconsecrated church at a secret location in the city.

In an odd twist of fate for the supposedly “cursed” play, an interview with Sir Kenneth Branagh appeared that very morning on Wednesday, where the actor told the Today programme’s Evan Davis: “The battle is very precisely rehearsed every single day, and in doing it there is enormous concentration.

“It is impossible to say that it is without danger,” he said. “Metal clashes, sparks literally fly. We wanted to immerse the audience in an elemental experience.”

Sir Kenneth added that: “Macbeth is a warrior, he is ruthless in battle. The world is a savage world.”

The play has received strong reviews and is sold out until its run ends on 20 July, at which point it will be broadcast to cinemas around the country as part of the National Theatre’s NT Live series.

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