Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Richard II

Great Performances: The Hollow Crown: Richard II

Friday, September 20 at 9:00 p.m.

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle
 - John of Gaunt, Act II, Sc. 1

Shakespeare's tales of family, politics and power — tell the rise and fall of three Kings.

"The Hollow Crown" is a lavish new series of filmed adaptations of four of Shakespeare’s most gripping history plays; Richard II, Henry IV, Parts I and II and Henry V on "Great Performances," September 20 through October 11.

In the first film, Richard II, King Richard (Ben Whishaw, pictured above) is called upon to settle a dispute between his cousin Henry Bolingbroke (Rory Kinnear) and Thomas Mowbray (James Purefoy). Richard calls for a duel, but then halts it just before swords clash. Both men are banished from the realm. Richard visits John of Gaunt (Patrick Stewart), Bolingbroke’s father, who, in the throes of death, reprimands the king.

After seizing Gaunt’s money and lands, Richard leaves for wars against the rebels in Ireland. Bolingbroke returns to claim his inheritance. Supported by his allies, Northumberland (David Morrissey) and the Duke of York (David Suchet), Bolingbroke takes Richard prisoner and lays claim to the throne.

Pictured at right: Clémence Poésy as Queen Isabella