Macbeth the cursed play

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"The Comedy of Glamis", "The Scottish Business" or simply "That Play" are just a few of the euphemisms actors use to avoid mentioning the title of William Shakespeare's Macbeth, one of the most ill-starred plays in theatrical history. Indeed, many professionals believe that "The Unmentionable" [another of its nicknames]-with its bloodshed, ghosts, and witchcraft--is one of the darkest dramas ever written. If an actor does happen to mention the name, or quotes from the …

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…Macbeth's castle were to burn it to the ground onstage. On opening night the wind blew smoke and flames into the audience, which fled in terror. And in 1980 Peter O'Toole, playing Macbeth for the first time at the Old Vic, was careful never to refer to the play by name. His precautions were in vain. Beset by numerous problems and accidents during rehearsals, when the play opened the critics called his work an artistic disaster.