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LONDON- An actor has sliced his neck open on an Austrian stage after a mixup with a prop knife.

Actor Daniel Hoevels collapsed on the stage of Vienna's Burgtheater with blood pouring from his neck after cutting his throat with what was supposed to be a blunt prop.

Hoevels, whose character was to commit suicide, had been given a real blade instead of a harmless prop, London's Telegraph newspaper reports.

As he collapsed with blood spurting from his neck, the audience started to applaud not realising Hoevels was not acting.

It was only when Hoevels, 30, failed to get up to take a bow that they realised something was wrong, the paper said.

"Police are now investigating their own murder mystery drama after refusing to rule out the possibility that the stunt may have been an attempt to bump off the actor by a jealous rival," the paper reported.

Police have been told that the knife had been bought at a local store and are asking if props staff forgot to blunt the blade for the performance of Friedrich Schiller's play Mary Stuart, about Mary Queen of Scots.