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Jonah Stribling
Jonah Stribling

Holly Down In Heaven Summary

Holly Down In Heaven Summary

Holly Down In Heaven is a dark comedy play by Kara Lee Corthron that explores the psychological journey of a pregnant teenager who retreats to her basement full of talking dolls. The play won the 2008 Princess Grace Award for Playwriting and was first performed in 2012 at the Forum Theatre in Maryland.

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Plot Synopsis

Holly is a 15-year-old, brainy, outspoken, spoiled, tyrannical brat who collects dolls from around the world. She is also a born-again Christian who believes that sex is a sin and that she will go to hell for having it. However, she has a one-night stand with a boy named Ian and becomes pregnant. She decides to keep the baby and hide her condition from her mother, who is a busy lawyer and a single parent. Holly locks herself in her basement, where she has hundreds of dolls that can talk to her and each other. She also has a therapist, Dr. McNuthin, who visits her regularly and tries to help her cope with her situation.

As the play progresses, Holly's relationship with her dolls becomes more complex and disturbing. She treats them as her friends, confidants, and children, but also as her prisoners, slaves, and enemies. She punishes them for disobeying her or questioning her decisions, sometimes by mutilating them or throwing them away. She also has delusions of grandeur and believes that she is a queen or a goddess who can control everything. She refuses to face reality and accept responsibility for her actions.

Meanwhile, Ian tries to contact Holly and express his feelings for her, but she rejects him and accuses him of ruining her life. He also tries to talk to Holly's mother, who is unaware of Holly's pregnancy and thinks that Ian is just a friend. Ian eventually reveals the truth to Holly's mother, who confronts Holly and tries to persuade her to come out of the basement and get medical attention. Holly refuses and claims that she is fine and that God will protect her and her baby.

The play ends with Holly giving birth to a baby girl in the basement, with the help of Dr. McNuthin and some of her dolls. She names the baby Heaven and decides to keep her in the basement with her. She tells Heaven that they are safe and happy in their own special heaven, where no one can hurt them or take them away.

Themes and Analysis

Holly Down In Heaven is a play that tackles various themes such as adolescence, religion, sexuality, identity, family, isolation, fantasy, and reality. The play examines the psychological effects of teenage pregnancy and the challenges of growing up in a complex and confusing world. It also explores the role of religion and faith in shaping one's beliefs and values, as well as the potential dangers of fanaticism and extremism.

The play uses humor and absurdity to create a contrast between Holly's fantasy world and the real world outside. The talking dolls serve as a device to reveal Holly's inner thoughts and emotions, as well as to provide comic relief and commentary on the situation. The dolls also represent different aspects of Holly's personality and identity, such as her innocence, curiosity, anger, fear, guilt, pride, love, and hate. The dolls also reflect Holly's cultural background and diversity, as they come from various countries and regions such as Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

The play also challenges the stereotypes and expectations of gender roles and sexuality in society. Holly is a smart and strong-willed girl who defies the norms of femininity and sexuality imposed by her religion and culture. She is not ashamed of her intelligence or ambition, but she is also not afraid of expressing her emotions or desires. However, she also struggles with the consequences of her choices and actions, especially when they conflict with her beliefs and values. She tries to cope with her situation by creating a fantasy world where she can escape from reality and exercise control over everything.


Holly Down In Heaven received positive reviews from critics and audiences alike when it premiered in 2012 at the Forum Theatre in Maryland. The play was praised for its originality, humor, depth, and relevance to contemporary issues. The play was also commended for its performances by the cast members, especially Maya Jackson who played Holly.

The play was described as "fabulous", "bold", "funny", "refreshing", "magnificent", and "engaging" by various reviewers. The play was also recognized for its social and cultural significance, as it addressed topics such as teenage pregnancy, religion, diversity, and mental health.


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