Shakespeare’s Richard II starts his four history plays about the House of Lancaster. King Richard (who ruled from 1377-1399) is a weak monarch, indecisive and irresponsible. With the country on the verge of crisis, nobleman Bolingbroke challenges Richard for the throne, and eventually deposes him – an act which is viewed as the origin for the War of the Roses between the Houses of York and Lancaster. Playing the title role is Simon Russell Beale, one of Britain’s finest Shakespearean actors and a regular at the National Theatre and the RSC. NT Live audiences may recognize Simon from his brilliant performances in the 2012 broadcast of Timon of Athens and the 2014 broadcast of King Lear. He is a two-time Olivier Award-winner.