Actor Ethan Hawke has felt the wrath of America's theatre critics - they have savaged his turn as William Shakespeare's tragic king Macbeth on the New York stage.

The Training Day star tackles the gruelling role in a new production at the Lincoln Center Theater, alongside James MCAvoy's actress wife Anne-Marie Duff as his murderous queen, Lady MACbeth.

However, the show has opened to dire reviews following its press night on Thursday (21Nov13), with Hawke taking the brunt for his performance.

In the New York Times, critic Ben Brantley brands the play's three witches as the stars of the show, adding, "The production also features a lost soul named Ethan Hawke in the title role, but let's not distract ourselves from the main event."

Brantley also claims the audience struggled to hear a word Hawke said, writing, "He delivers Shakespeare's poetry like a moody, glue-sniffing teenager reciting Leonard Cohen lyrics to himself."

Elisabeth Vincentelli for the New York Post agrees, adding, "There's no getting around Hawke's underwhelming performance... It's almost enough to make you believe that the Scottish play really is cursed."

The Hollywood Reporter's David Rooney writes that Hawke gives a "sauntering, strangely noncommittal performance" and only "intermittently gets his teeth into the tyrant".