A spade on both your greenhouses!

Using battlements instead of a balcony, the immortal line of “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo”, from  the Shakespearean tragedy of forbidden love, is coming to Kronborg via a puppet show that combines the cultural with the horticultural.

The imposing stronghold of Kronborg castle dates back more than 500 years and was originally built to give the taxman a base from which to extract customs duties from all passing foreign ships, using force if necessary. This bastion on the northeast tip of Zealand was immortalised as Elsinore castle in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Since 1816, Kronborg has hosted numerous performances of Hamlet with illustrious names such as Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, John Gieldgud, Kenneth Branagh and Derek Jacobi gracing the fortifications. Every August the ramparts come alive with the sounds of sonnets as the world-renowned Shakespeare festival transforms Kronborg castle into an utterly unique open air theatre.

As a taste of things to come, the Hamlet stage (Hamletscenen) is getting to grips with one of Shakespeare’s most performed plays, the tragedy Romeo and Juliet – presented here as Romeo and Julie – in which the star cross’d lovers meet, fall head over heels, hatch a plot to escape and then tragically take their lives after Romeo mistakenly believes Juliet is dead.

This will, however, not be your run-of-the-mill staging, as Danish actor and mime artist Rye skilfully compresses the timeless tale of forbidden love into a 30-minute madcap performance, sharing the stage together with his co-actors, a motley assortment of anthropomorphised garden tools. Yes, you read right: garden tools! Rolf Søborg Hansen’s artistically adapted puppets in the shape of shovels, hoes, rakes, spades and brooms come miraculously alive in the dexterous hands of Rye, who leads us up the garden path with a host of brooms in one hand and a family of spades in the other. In this unusual allotment atmosphere, the story of Romeo and Julie is allowed to sprout and blossom.

Rye has been a popular Danish actor in theatre, film and TV for the last 30 years. Skilled in the art of mime, the versatile Rye has already displayed his talents for storytelling and bringing simplistic puppets to life in the two runs of Et ensomt øre (A lonely ear). Responsible for the concept and production is Jacques Matthiessen, whose fascination with puppetry goes back a long way via his work at the Kongens Have Marionette Theatre shows.

The setting itself is incomparable – you won’t have many chances to experience Shakespeare in such exquisite surroundings. A specially constructed 4m cubic box has been built in the open air at the top of the castle. With the pounding of the waves, screeching of seagulls, wind in your hair and grass under your feet, you will be more than ready for the unfolding drama of the Capulets and Montagues set to the tuneful twanging melodies of composer and jazz musician Frederik Lundin.

The performances take place at 13:00 every day, rain or shine, except Fridays between June 29 and July 21. Kronborg itself is a mere 20-minute walk along the water from Helsingør station.

This is the perfect day trip for those wishing to combine the historical allure of Kronborg with a bit of Shakespearian culture at lunchtime. Think of it as an outdoor theatrical garden party for anyone over the age of six, where the often-hard-to-decipher dialogue of Shakespeare has been artfully replaced by mime and sounds. Although the play only lasts half an hour, parting is sure to be such sweet sorrow as the comedic and tragic twists and turns are interpreted by the green fingers of Rye. Treat yourself to a rampant show on the ramparts where you can’t quite call a spade a spade, and the blushing broom is the one that gets swept off her feet.

Shakespeare Puppets presents Romeo and Julie
Kronborg Castle, Kronborg 13, Helsingør; starts Sat, ends July 21, daily performances at 13:00 except Fridays; tickets: adults 60kr, children 40kr, www.billeten.net; www.hamletscenen.dk