But Conor Madden, 24, will make a full recovery and Second Age theatre company said the show will go on today.
The drama unfolded at Cork’s Everyman Palace Theatre yesterday.
Mr Madden, who plays the lead role in Second Age’s production of Hamlet, was duelling with Laertes, played by Aonghus Óg McAnally, in their first performance for Cork audiences.
The audience, comprised mostly of Leaving Cert students who were anxious to see Hamlet brought to life, got more drama than they bargained for when Mr Madden was accidently struck in the face by Laertes’s sword, and collapsed.
“It was just one of those things, and these things happen,” Second Age’s artistic director Alan Stanford said.
“It was totally accidental. This is a complex fight and they are highly skilled at it. It is choreographed by one of the leading fight directors in the country.
“The actors have been doing it day in, day for out the last two months, between rehearsals, and live shows but it just took one little thing for this to happen.”
The show was abandoned immediately, just four minutes from the end, and Mr Madden was rushed by ambulance to Cork University Hospital (CUH).
Mr Stanford thanked the audience for their understanding after theatre staff cleared the house.
Mr Madden received a few stitches to the nick, which was just below one of his eyes. But he hopes to be back on stage tomorrow.
Mr Stanford made arrangements last night for actor Marty Rea, who won an award last year for his portrayal of Hamlet, to take over the lead role for today’s shows at 1pm and 8pm.
Billed as a modern reworking of Shakespeare’s classic, with Hamlet dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Second Age’s Hamlet, directed by Aoife Spillane Hinks, opened in Dublin late last month to rave reviews.
It is currently on a nationwide tour and performances are due to take place in the Everyman every day until Friday, before the show moves to the Townhall Theatre in Galway next week, and Dublin’s Helix Theatre the week after.