Cheetah - Play


Screenplay Outline

A wildlife thriller

When an ex-war photographer is sent to Iran on a wildlife assignment, he finds himself at the heart of a global cause being fought from an unknown backwater, and is faced with challenges beyond his worse nightmares.

Everyone loves the Big Cats but few are aware of the Asiatic Cheetah, now on the brink of extinction. So when gung-ho COLUM wins a job to photograph them, he jumps at it and heads for the lawless deserts and wind-scooped mountains of Eastern Iran.

Here he is put in the hands of Cheetah Reserve Director HASSAN but finds himself in the cross fire between rangers and poachers. Hassan's approach is to employ the poachers. Thus Colum's trekking guide is tribal leader and ex-poacher MUSTAFA.
Local art teacher Miss AGUAH is championing the cheetah campaign with a school project when she collides with a defenceless Colum. They click. Her star pupil is NAZRIN, Mustafa's daughter, who leads the project - a storybook called 'Cheating the Cheetah'.

Out in the forbidding wilderness, Colum discovers a ranger shot in the neck. Mustafa is implicated and Colum is left in peril to chart his own course, as tensions escalate and the fastest runner in the world still eludes him. Hassan is forced to axe his guides and Mustafa, shamed, returns to his old ways.

Aguah's contentious project turns her students into activists, but those out to get her for her forthright stance gather their evidence and she's fired. Meanwhile an emboldened Nazrin becomes her own detective in unravelling her father's secrets.

Packing up camp on his last morning, a defeated Colum is finally blessed with a sighting of glorious cheetah cubs and gets his killer picture. But down the canyon a gunshot rings out. Mustafa kills the mother cheetah and, in retribution, is himself shot. Salvaging a last glimmer of hope Hassan, assisted by Nazrin, rescues the motherless cubs and transports them to safety.

CHEETAH is the story of a foolhardy outsider drawn into a web of ancient traditions and conflicting values. Humbled by the local unsung heroes, he rallies them - in their darkest hour - to be winners in their monumental struggle to save one of the planet's iconic species.

8 Iranian Conservationists involved in protecting the Asiatic Cheetah are currently being detained.


Stage-play Synopsis 

The stage-play CHEETING THE CHEETAH was written first and is set in a similar location. The herding family feature in both play and film. While the predecessors of the film’s protagonists COLUMN and AGUAH are, in the stage-play: REZA a radical young zoologist and LEILA a London-based artist, passionate supporter, and illustrator of the cheetah storybook. 


Excerpts & Scripts currently unavailable

What people have said

  • Rena Owen, Polywood Productions

    It is a great and important story with awesome visuals, colorful rich characters, solid relationships, and it has a lot of soul and a very big heart! It ticks a lot of cinema boxes...

  • Thomas Strudwick, Director of Film, AUB, and Screenwriter Consultant

    I enjoyed the read. It's well-written, the setting is fresh and exciting and the story is packed with incident - there is so much going on!

  • L.A. Screenwriter, Christopher Brian Halvorson

    He is a talented writer with a lot of charm – even though the topic is tragic... Once it got going I was engaged in the story. It has a lot of great things working for it... Most projects gain traction because of the concept. You have a great concept!

  • Papatango New Writing Prize

    A play about political, environmental, and cultural topics, focused around the extinction of the Iranian cheetah. An epic journey in two acts, the stakes are given the time they need for set up so that when things start going wrong, the curveballs are devasting. High quality writing, engaging characters that represent a range of fully three dimensional people with their own individual tracks through the story, and a setting that is visually striking, even on the page.

  • Royal Court

    It offered an engaging, in-depth and incredibly well-researched insight into a subject and place which was refreshingly unfamiliar to us.  The atmosphere and energy of Eastern Iran and its culture felt theatrically realised and beautifully represented.

  • Theatre 503

    The plot of the play is emotionally fraught and hugely interesting.  This is absolutely not a typical story to find on a London stage, which makes it refreshing to read.  In saying that, the themes are universal and timely......Characterisation in this play is achieved beautifully.  The dialogue is naturalistic, rich and multi-faceted.  We can easily believe these characters have lives outside of the action and actors would find a wealth of material here to draw from......I found the ending to be very emotionally effective and dramatically satisfying.  This writer understands how to execute a story and how to emotionally involve their audience.

  • Watermill Theatre

    This is a superb piece! I really enjoyed reading it and was gripped throughout....Tremendously revealing of a very misunderstood situation and culture, and very timely......Stunningly good ending.

  • Boundless Theatre & Dramaturge, Rob Drummer

    I’m reflecting upon the great ambition here...I was really happy to spend time in this world with these people...The central themes of preservation and perseverance are well explored...refreshing to see this particular subject tackled with a backdrop of nuclear issues.