A Sensation Novel by WS Gilbert

Adapted for screen by Robert Turnbull


What is A Sensation Novel?

A Sensation Novel is a short comic operetta written by WS Gilbert with music by Thomas German Reed. First performed in 1871 it was a parody of the sensationalist melodrama novels popular at the time. Relying on stock characters and clichéd plots, these novels were hugely successful… but hardly considered high art! WS Gilbert’s short play turns the ideas of these character tropes and conventions on their head in a farcical (and for 1871, remarkably post modern, meta) way!


The Plot!

An author has entered a pact with The Spirit of Romance to help him complete his sensation novels. Suffering from writer's block he summons the spirit to aid him and she introduces him to the world just outside his book, the story written between the lines!


At the end of each volume the characters in the author’s novel – all of whom are terrible clichés – come to life to discuss their fate at the hand of the author. Freed from the confines of the Author's tedious story telling they are all revealed to be the very opposite of what he has written them as!


  • Sir Ruthven (Nathan Masterson) - The villain of the novel, in reality a kind hearted and charitable gentleman.

  • Rockalda (Sian Abrahams) – The sultry villainess of the novel is really a good and wholesome woman, in love with Herbert.

  • Herbert – The brave, shy, juvenile lead of the novel, is actually a brash, confident headstrong young man.

  • Alice (Lucy Litchfield) – Gentle and timid, Herbert’s virginal love in the novel but in the real world she despises her insipid character and boring love interest and instead lusts after Sir Ruthven.

  • Detective Gripper (Joseph Elliott) - A well meaning but useless detective, thinks of himself as a Sherlock Holmes type yet is closer to Inspector Clouseau!

  • The Author - Lazy and a little conceited, he has made a pact with the Spirit to help him write his novels yet still considers himself a great talent.

  • The Spirit of Romance - Mysterious and mischievous, the Spirit holds a strange power over all our characters!


Cast and Crew!

Our fully professional cast includes several Forducks alumni as well as new talent.

This fresh, exciting young cast will bring new life to this classic comedy.


Our crew is made up of all individuals working in film and television production


The Company!

In 2005 Forducks Theatre Company, under the direction of Robert Turnbull, took a slightly adapted version of A Sensation Novel to the International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival at Buxton. Over 6 years Forducks took a series of Gilbert's short and comic plays to the festival as part of its Fringe theatre programme.


A huge success when first performed, it has been our ambition to create a fully dramatised, filmed version of A Sensation Novel ever since!


The Project!

We are producing a fully dramatised, filmed version of this play. Working from the original WS Gilbert manuscript it has been adapted for the screen and will be directed by Robert Turnbull.


Using the latest digital film making techniques, green screen, VFX and of course talented actors, we will create a unique world for these characters to inhabit.


As with our stage version of ten years ago, we have omitted the songs – much of the original music is now lost – but we will, as part of the production, be commissioning a series of stings and incidental music based around the music of Sir Arthur Sullivan and incorporating elements from what Thomas German Reed music still exists. This original recording, orchestrated by musican Nathan Persad, will be made available, as well as the film itself.


We will be producing a 'Vanilla' version of the DVD (film only) and a 'Deluxe' version (which will include behind the scenes footage, "making of" featurettes, cast & crew commentary and more!).


Our Goal!

Our Kickstarter is finished and we reached our goal, however if you would still like to support the project details of how to do so will be posted here soon...