In Diana’s never-ending quest to turn everything she loves into a musical, she decided to take on the task of writing a musical based on Valve’s hit game, Portal. But how to turn a game with a silent protagonist and a cast of robots into a workable show?
Easy: set it during the life and times of everyone’s favorite mad scientist, Cave Johnson.
The show is based on the fanon theory that Chell is the daughter of Caroline and Cave Johnson, and explores how their story may have played out in the years leading up to Aperture Science’s “Take Your Daughter To Work Day”. Some elements of the story have been changed for the adaptation.
Cave Johnson is an up and coming entrepreneur in the early 1940s, making a living by selling shower curtains to the United States Navy. While he is a successful salesman, one of his employees, Caroline, suggests he is wasting his potential and proposes the idea of opening an advanced scientific facility. While skeptical at first, the idea takes root in his head, and by the 1950s, Aperture Science Innovators is a household name.
However, in the 1960s, Cave’s good fortune dries up. By the end of the decade, Aperture Science is bankrupt and at the center of a court case involving ‘missing astronauts’. The only beacons of hope for him are his love of science and his assistant, Caroline. The two begin an affair which ends in a child, which the Cave has placed into stasis, not wanting the responsibility of a child. This dismays Caroline, but she eventually agrees it is for the best, and the two rededicate themselves to science and saving their failing company.
While Aperture tests and creates many products throughout the 1970s, none of them prove enough to turn around the company’s bleak financial situation. Desperate for test subjects and unable to afford hiring any, the company begins testing on its own employees at Caroline’s suggestion. They begin serious work on portaling technology, and Cave purchases $70 million worth of moon rocks, much to the chagrin of his accounting department. In a cruel twist of fate, the rocks turn out to be poisonous, and Cave falls deathly ill. During this time, his daughter is brought out of stasis and raised by an employee, as while Cave is hoping to be able to spend time with his child before he dies, he has little affection for her and doesn’t want the responsibility of raising her. This is done without Caroline’s knowledge.
Cave, knowing he is close to death, names Caroline as his successor and orders work on an AI programming initiative to upload his consciousness to before his death. He orders his technicians to upload Caroline to it as a test, and so that he would still have an assistant when he was eventually uploaded. She is forced into the machine against her will, and attempts to destroy the facility each time she is activated. Her memories also do not survive the transfer, making Cave hesitant to use it himself.
On Bring Your Daughter to Work day in May of 1995, GLaDOS is activated, her handlers having thought they had her under control. She floods the facility with neurotoxin, killing many and imprisoning the survivors in stasis.
Cave Johnson, still alive, makes his way to the room where GLaDOS is housed to attempt to deactivate her manually. She locks the doors and straps him into the chair used to transfer her consciousness and transfers his mind into a hybrid turret-cube she had prepared. She is not sure why, but she finds this to be incredibly satisfying.
GLaDOS then begins a perpetual testing cycle with the survivors in stasis, leading into the events of Portal.