The play is told in a nonlinear fashion. Interestingly enough, the play’s first scene occurs after the play debuted; the first scene takes place in 1989 (Broadway debut was 1988), as Heidi Holland is giving a lecture which shows her amazing intellect and vast knowledge of Art History; we learn that she is a champion of female art and artists, and a challenger of male-dominated spheres. As a lecturer, she forwards her agenda of promoting work created by women. Professor Heidi Holland is clearly a proud feminist.
In The Heidi Chronicles’ first instance of non-linear storytelling, the play jumps backward to a Heidi Holland who is 24 years younger. This Heidi we meet has not come into her own, she is a quiet, socially strange outsider struggling to socialize at a high school dance. Here, she encounters a young man with a lot of zest for life; this man is Peter, a charming fellow who eventually becomes Heidi’s best friend through the rest of her life. Although there seems to be romantic interest, Peter ends up being a homosexual with no romantic interest in her whatsoever.
All of the sudden, we find ourselves three years later in Heidi’s story, where she meets a handsome but cocky newspaper editor, Scoop Rosenbaum. Scoop ends up stealing Heidi’s heart and also taking her virginity after a brief encounter. This is Heidi’s main love interest, despite the fact that he obviously does not care as deeply about her as she does about him; or, if he does, he has a strange way of showing it…
Heidi continues to develop as a strong, independent woman. She becomes a core member in several women’s groups and creates an impressive career as a professor and a historian of art. She continues to feel romantically toward Peter, who continues to disregard her romantic feelings but enjoy a deep friendship with her; he moves in and out of homosexual relationships, losing many close friends to AIDs along the way. Heidi also continues to keep a connection with Scoop, even though he does not treat her well, refuses to commit, and marries somebody else.
Heidi fulfills her desire to become a mother when she adopts a child and becomes a mother without a husband or significant male partner in her life. She dreams of her child growing up in a world that is filled with more equality and opportunity than the world she fought hard to find limited success in.