Portal 2: The (Unauthorized) Musical is a fan-made stage show adaptation of the beloved video game of the same name. It is a product of the Vancouver-based musical theater burlesque comedy troupe Geekenders Theatricals. It was performed in January of 2015 at Vancouver's Rio Theatre.
The show retells the story of Valve's game, that of captive test subject Chell and her robot tormenters in Aperture Laboratories. It does this with the help of clever, Portal-ized parodies of show-tunes, giving us numbers such as "Poor Unfortunate Subjects," "Suddenly Wheatley," and "Do You Hear the Turrets Sing." Fairlith Harvey, the show's GLaDOS, added additional dialogue for the show that is very much in the vein of the darkly comic world of Aperture.
The entire thing is available to view on YouTube here. Its soundtrack is available for purchase here. Geekenders' home page can be found here.
In June of 2016, Geekenders launched an Indiegogo campaign for their 2017 update of the show. The 2017 remount, with an updated script, set, and costumes, can be viewed here.
Because the plot sticks closely to the source material, this page will only feature tropes exclusive to the musical, and spoilers for the plot of Portal 2 will be left unmarked. Tropes already present in the video game itself can be found on its page.
Portal 2: The (Unauthorized) Musical contains examples of:
- A Cappella: Three female turrets lament their lot in life with "Here in the Darkness We're Free."
- Actor Swap: Patrice Bowler and Erin Mudry play Chell in the same show so the character can leap through one portal and instantly emerge from the other. They also sing a duet together at one point.
- Adapted Out: Doug Rattmann only appears in the show via his trademark wall scrawlings. However, Rattmann appears physically and sings in the 2017 reboot.
- Adaptational Heroism: The Cores, who were largely passive in the game, take on a more active role in the boss fight against Wheatley. Special mention goes to the Space Core, who physically drags Wheatley through the portal into space.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- Wheatley comes off worse because his My God, What Have I Done? moment from The Stinger is cut. He also seems far more in control of his actions, unlike in the game where it was implied his Face–Heel Turn was due to the mainframe corrupting him. Thus, Wheatley comes off as someone who never had Chell's best interests at heart and was just using her to get what he wants. The Dark Reprise of "Suddenly Wheatley" in the 2017 production further cements this.
- While Wheatley comes off worse from moments being cut, Cave Johnson is much nastier because of the moments they kept in. Whereas in the game who only hear about him abusing his employees and turning a blind eye to their safety, here you directly witness it, including intentionally setting up one scientist to be killed. What's worse, the game cut out the scene where Caroline protests having her brain uploaded to GLaDOS, but the play includes it, making it clear that he subjected her to it against her wishes.
- Adaptation Species Change: Downplayed. GLaDOS, the spherical cores and the turrets are now humanoid. It's actually very effective.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: This musical is an adaptation of Portal 2.
- Ascended Extra: The three corrupted cores who only show up in the boss battle of the game make significant appearances throughout the entire show, even in the Old Aperture scenes.
- Also Caroline, who, though important, has only a handful of short lines in the game, and becomes a prominent character in the musical.
- Bad Boss:
- The cores are terrified of GLaDOS, and during the piece 'Poor Unfortunate Subjects' it's easy to see why; throughout the scene she randomly controls their movements, attacks them, or touches them in ways that make them grimace. Wheatley spends a majority of the song on the floor in the fetal position, with the exception of the end of the song, which he spends unconscious after trying to argue on Chell's behalf.
- Wheatley also becomes this, in his abusing the other cores once he takes over Aperture.
- Cave Johnson's just as much of an unhinged lunatic in the play as he was in the musical, though he comes off as slightly better here due to his numerous Pet the Dog moments with Caroline. Even his signing Rick up for a potentially lethal test was triggered by him making obnoxious comments toward her. Though once he has Caroline dragged against her will into their new Brain Uploading experiment, it's clear even she's not safe from him.
- The Big Damn Kiss:
- There is one between Chell and Rick during the boss battle.
- Cave and Caroline also have one.
- Brain Uploading: GLaDOS as in the game, but also the Fact, Space, and Adventure Spheres.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Many instances, including:Turrets: Do you hear the turrets sing?
You've nothing left from us to fear.
That is until Valve lets us know that the sequel's here!
Wheatley: That's pretty much the whole story, folks. You're all caught up.
- Wheatley refers to his attack mode as the "boss battle sequence" and complains about having to fall repeatedly on the hard stage in the original version.
- Gabe Newell's face appears on the moon, in the original version.
- In Chapter One, Wheatley explains to Chell (not realizing who she is) why GLaDOS is currently offline, summarizing the plot of the first game and what happened in between (ie, basically nothing). Then he and Chell both turn and give very large grins to the audience. This is cut in the 2017 production
- In the 2017 production, Wheatley tells Chell that the cores are never supposed to disengage from their management rails "unless it's a very big production number." This refers to Wheatley being able to move around freely in the preceding musical number, "Good Morning Aperture."
- Charm Person: GLaDOS's introductory song, "I'm Alive," features the line "Come closer, come closer." Chell does, as if entranced, and Wheatley has to yank her back.note
- Exaggerated in the 2017 show. During the same number, GLaDOS takes control of Chell and all four of the cores, making them freeze, dance, and bow to her throughout the entire song.
- Condescending Compassion: During "Suddenly Wheatley":Chell: Limited guidance...Wheatley: Well now, that's grateful...Chell: ...to get through this floor!
- Creator Cameo: Gabe Newell's face graces the moon during the final battle in the original version.
- Curse Cut Short: During "Mr Johnson:"Scientists: You're a class your own above other classes!Cave Johnson: Gonna kick some Black Mesa— *cough*
- Cute Mute: Chell is considerably less stoic in this version of the story, though still mostly silent.
- Dark Reprise: In the 2017 show, of "Suddenly Wheatley" when Wheatley gets the upper hand in the boss battle.Wheatley: Suddenly Wheatley...
Booby-trapped the stalemate!
Suddenly Wheatley... is still in control!
This troublesome mute has been blown to a charred blob!
And with one last bomb I'll...
finish the job!
- Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Wheatley shows hints of this during "Good Morning Aperture."Wheatley: I care for this place,
I care for you folk.
My life has a meaning,
I'm not a joke!
- And again, very strongly, in "Suddenly Wheatley."Wheatley: Suddenly Wheatley
Is standing beside you.
You've given me purpose.
I know what I'm for.
- And again, very strongly, in "Suddenly Wheatley."
- Distracted by the Sexy: Happens to Caroline when Cave asks her how he looks for their trip to Black Mesa. She gets lost in thought, realizes it, and awkwardly blurts out, "Science!... sir!"Cave: You always know what to say.
- Duet Bonding: "Suddenly Wheatley". Although the two have been working together the whole show, this song cements their relationship as partners, especially for the heretofore unmotivated Chell. Bonus points for basing the song on "Suddenly Seymour," the romantic duet from Little Shop of Horrors.
- Evil Laugh: Graeme Thompson, J.D. Dueckman, and Fairlith Harvey can do particularly creepy ones.
- Fainting: The Fact Core does this, of the Girly Man Faint variety, when Chell says "Apple" .
- Faux Affably Evil: Wheatley becomes this instead of Affably Evil like he is in the game due to his Adaptational Villainy.
- Flashback: The action of Chapter Three takes place before the creation of GLaDOS.
- Foreshadowing: Caroline regularly quotes lyrics from "Still Alive."
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: Adventure Core repeatedly expresses annoyance towards Space Core and makes fun of him, but when Wheatley does it, he stands up for him.
- Hypocritical Humor: GLaDOS calling Chell fat becomes this, since the former is now a Big Beautiful Woman and is pudgier than Chell is.
- "I Am Great!" Song: "Mr. Johnson" is basically Cave Johnson praising himself for his company's achievements despite the less than happy work environment.
- "I Am Aperture" for Wheatley, as well. For everyone else participating, it's an "I Am" Song.
- "I Am" Song: "I'm Alive" is GLaDOS celebrating what she is upon awakening.
- "I Am Becoming" Song: "Running the Whole Machine"
- Incredibly Lame Pun: From the 2017 reboot:Wheatley: What would you say to a bit of Netflix and Chell?
*Audience boos and groans*
Wheatley: Did you see that? 'Course you did, you're a potato. You're covered in eyes.
- Also from the 2017 reboot, when Wheatley has put GLaDOS into a potato battery and is flaunting his new power:
- Insult Comic: Wheatley does a bit of this in "Why Can't the Subjects," cracking jokes about Black Mesa and humans in general. The other Cores find him hilarious. Chell does not. It serves as subtle Foreshadowing that Wheatley doesn't have Chell's best interests at heart.Wheatley: Well, the subjects don't care what they do, as long as they make the biggest mess possible.
- Involuntary Dance: GLaDOS forces this upon Chell and the cores in the 2017 version of "I'm Alive."
- Ironic Echo: "Say goodbye, Caroline."
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Rick the Adventure Core mocks the Space Core throughout the show, but comes to Space's defense when Wheatley menaces him after "I Am Aperture."
- Kick the Dog: Wheatley has a rather nasty one in the original version. After getting fed up with Space Core, Wheatley convinces Space Core he actually is in space, even acting it out with him, only for Wheatley cruelly bring him back to reality and make sure he understands that he is never going to space. It seems the creators agreed this was too cruel, and the moment is all but removed in the 2017 version, with only the final part being kept.
- Ladykiller in Love: It's implied that Rick was this for Caroline when he was human. He rather blatantly hits on her... and starts kicking himself for screwing it up and talking about wanting to marry her as soon as she's out of earshot.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In the 2017 remount when Wheatley is trying to hack the code to abort GLaDOS's re-activation, he runs over to the band and uses the electronic keyboard. He even plays the notes that match his password attempts.
- Longing Look: Cave throws some at Caroline, and vice-versa.
- Manchild: The Space Core keeps saying and rambling about Space.
- Metaphorgotten: Cave Johnson tells his underlings a parable about a scorpion and a frog that he quickly forgets the purpose of.Cave: I came out of the metaphor somewhere back there, but the point still stands.
- Montage: Chell's trek through GLaDOS's testing track is compiled into one song, "Under Attack".
- Mood Whiplash: The audience is only slightly less surprised than Caroline, but no less saddened, when Cave's ballad to her becomes, well, this:Cave: You know, Caroline, I always said that if I died before they can pour me into a computer, I wanted you to run this place.Caroline: That's very flattering, sir, but I don't think—Cave: And I knew you'd argue. You're modest like that. But we can make you.Caroline: ... What?
- The Musical
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Almost immediately after the scene showing Rick flirting with Caroline, Cave Johnson volunteers Rick for the most lethal test the facility is testing at the moment: the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System. Apparently Rick survived the process to become the Adventure Core, but it certainly wasn't for a lack of trying by Johnson.
- Non Sequitur: Most of the Fact Core's lines.Fact Core: Conquistadors are still here!
- Only Sane Man: Adventure Core acts as this among the cores, though the other two don't provide much competition.
- Oral Fixation: The Space Core occasionally sucks his thumb.
- Patter Song: Cave Johnson's verson of "Trouble," in which he tries to sell the portal gun to some Black Mesa scientists fending off headcrab zombies.
- People Puppets: GLaDOS takes over the movements of Chell and the cores in the choreography of "I'm Alive." Wheatley similarly makes the turrets and cores dance for him once he takes over Aperture.
- Pep-Talk Song: "A Quick Pair of Portals," in which Chell prepares to go take down "that psycho core who's taken over."
- Also the purpose of Wheatley's verse in "Under Attack."
- Plucky Girl: Chell's Determinator personality is adapted into this. Even after being betrayed and punched down an elevator shaft by Wheatley, she finds the motivation to sing an optimistic Mary Poppins-inspired song about her skill with a portal gun on her way to defeat him, which becomes a Triumphant Reprise during the final battle.
- Poor, Predictable Rock: Wheatley, to the point where he has his own version of Rock Paper Scissors called... Rock Rock Rock. When Rick uses paper, Wheatley is taken completely by surprise.
- Post-Kiss Catatonia: Wheatley falls to the floor after Chell kisses him on the cheek.
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Parodied with the Fact Core's line, spoken during the boss fight sequence.Fact Core: "Hillary Clinton became a politician after seeing The Brave Little Toaster!"
- Chell gets one to finish off the boss battle of the 2017 show.
- Promoted to Love Interest: While the exact nature of their relationship is pretty ambiguous in the game, in the musical there is no room for doubt that Cave Johnson and Caroline have a thing going on.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "You are NEVER. GOING. TO SPACE."
- Running Gag: Wheatley falls down a lot. Justified since he doesn't have much experience with walking, having relied on his management rail for most of his life. Downplayed in the 2017 production, in which it only happens a couple of times at the beginning and stops after GLaDOS appears.
- Setting Introduction Song: "Good Morning Aperture"
- The Fact Core's section of "Mr. Johnson" pays tribute to Valve.Fact Core: We're not crackpots, as some make us seem.
We've got this country's best research team!
But the ones in the hats work on something called Steam.
What it's for
We're not sure
But we're living the dream!
- Multiple shout-outs to Doctor Who, mostly by Wheatley.
- Wheatley compares his partnership with Chell to be "like Rose and the Doctor."
- In both versions, Wheatley shouts "I don't want to go!" before being sucked through the portal into space.
- In the 2017 version, Wheatley bears a strong resemblance to the Tenth Doctor.
- Also in that version, he says "bananas are good," echoing both the Ninth and Tenth Doctors.
- Rick and Caroline's exchange, "How many times do I have to tell you to call me Rick?" "As always, at least one more time" is lifted nearly word-for-word from Elizabeth and Will's dialogue in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
- The Fact Core's section of "Mr. Johnson" pays tribute to Valve.
- Sickly Neurotic Geek: The Fact Core was this back when he was human.
- The Silent Bob: Chell is not mute in this adaptation, but the only time her voice is heard is in songs. The rest of the time, she communicates with facial expressions, body language and, of course, jumping.
- Silent Snarker: The Space Core of all people behaves like this at times.
- Solo Duet: The two performers of Chell have "A Quick Pair of Portals," jumping in and out of said portals.
- Song Parody: Each song, with the exception of "Want You Gone".
- Ship Sinking: Wheatley's betrayal ends his romance with Chell real fast, with his Adaptational Villainy calling into question if it was even real in the first place. The Dark Reprise of Suddenly Wheatley from the 2017 version further cements this.
- Ship Tease:
- Chell and Wheatley sing a parody of Suddenly Seymour, ending with Wheatley falling over in shock after Chell kisses him on the cheek. Wheatley's betrayal ensures it doesn't last.
- The Fact Core also swoons over GLaDOS, while Rick flirts with Caroline.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Wheatley uses the wrist variation on Chell during "Running the Whole Machine."
- Suddenly Speaking:
Chell: "Ah buh-heg yer pardon!" note
- Played for Laughs, when Chell, much to the surprise of the cores, speaks in a bizarre southern drawl.
- It's downplayed after that, as Chell remains silent. She doe outside of her solo number.
- Take That!: The 2017 update launches one directly at President Donald Trump.Wheatley: Most of your facts are spurious—
Fact Core: They are ALTERNATIVE.
(the audience cheers and claps for a solid 30 seconds)
- Title: The Adaptation
- Villain Love Song: Cave's "If You Could See You" to Caroline... which ends with her being dragged away screaming to have her consciousness poured into a computer.
- Villain Song: One for each villain. GLaDOS sings "Poor Unfortunate Subjects," gloating over Chell's fate after capturing her, and Wheatley has "Running the Whole Machine," in which he does the same thing to GLaDOS.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The cores, sans Wheatley.
- While the Fact and Adventure Cores often find the Space Core annoying, they immediately come to his defense when Wheatley yells at him.
- Was Once a Man: The Fact, Space, and Adventure Cores were once Aperture scientists who worked alongside Cave Johnson. In the 2017 show, as was Wheatley.
- Also, as per the game, GLaDOS was once Cave Johnson's human assistant Caroline.
- Welcoming Song: "Good Morning Aperture"
- Whole Episode Flashback: Chapter Three: The Reunion, set in the days of when humans ran the facility.
- You Are Fat: GLaDOS to Chell, as per usual, but the Fact Core gets in on the action too when he tells Rick "You could stand to lose a few pounds."