Gentrification leads to madness, cannibalism and laughs in ‘The Horror of Dolores Roach’

by Andrew Wright
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“The Horror of Dolores Roach” explores the consequences of gentrification, with a touch of madness, cannibalism, and dark humor. The protagonist, Dolores Roach, laments the displacement of her community due to the influx of upscale establishments. The rising property prices and taxes have forced many people out of their homes, and Dolores finds it disheartening to witness this change.

The impact of gentrification serves as a catalyst for Machado’s new dark comedy series, “The Horror of Dolores Roach,” which will premiere on Prime Video. In the show, Machado portrays Roach, a woman who spent 16 years in prison for marijuana-related charges. Upon her release, she discovers a transformed world around her. Utilizing her “magic hands” honed as a masseuse in prison, Roach opens a massage parlor in a building shared with an empanada shop. Initially aiming for a normal life, she eventually finds herself using her unique skills to protect herself from a dangerous situation. As the story unfolds, the empanadas she serves become a source of intrigue as patrons discover an unexpected secret ingredient.

Machado explains how viewers empathize with Dolores, saying, “Dolores says, ‘I’m just like you if everything went wrong.’ You feel compassion for her because she had 16 years of her life stolen for something that is now legally available everywhere. Suddenly, she is released and left with nowhere to go, nobody to turn to. Unfortunately, this is a more common story than we’d like to acknowledge—the hardships faced by individuals after leaving prison and their struggle to survive. These are uncomfortable truths we tend to avoid.”

“The Horror of Dolores Roach” originated as a one-woman play written by Aaron Mark, inspired by the fictional story of “Sweeney Todd.” Mark witnessed the rapid gentrification of Washington Heights, where he resided for a decade, and felt as though the neighborhood was cannibalizing itself. This notion led him to draw connections to “Sweeney Todd” and envision a cannibalism tale set in the changing neighborhood. After staging the play off Broadway in 2015, Mark faced skepticism when pitching the story for television. However, the success of the “Dolores Roach” podcast led to a bidding war for the TV rights. Mark now serves as a co-showrunner and co-executive producer on the series.

Machado’s portrayal of Dolores Roach marks her first major lead role, immersing her in every scene and shot as the story unfolds from Dolores’ perspective. Despite the intense commitment, Machado found joy in embracing the madness of Dolores’ situation. The character’s outrageousness and lack of boundaries allowed Machado to explore new horizons in her acting. Mark describes Dolores Roach as a relatable serial killer, challenging the perception of sociopathy and presenting her as a complex and multifaceted character.

Overall, “The Horror of Dolores Roach” delves into the ramifications of gentrification, incorporating elements of madness, cannibalism, and dark humor. Through the lens of Dolores Roach, the series examines the struggles faced by individuals affected by societal changes and the lengths they go to survive.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about gentrification

What is “The Horror of Dolores Roach” about?

“The Horror of Dolores Roach” is a dark comedy series that explores the themes of gentrification, madness, and cannibalism. It follows the story of Dolores Roach, a woman who is released from prison after 16 years and finds herself navigating a transformed world.

Who plays the lead role in “The Horror of Dolores Roach”?

Justina Machado portrays the character of Dolores Roach in the series. This is her first major lead role, and she brings her talent and versatility to bring the complex character to life.

How did the concept for “The Horror of Dolores Roach” originate?

The series was originally a one-woman play written by Aaron Mark, inspired by the fictional story of “Sweeney Todd.” Mark witnessed the rapid gentrification of Washington Heights and used that as a backdrop to create a tale of cannibalism and societal change.

What makes Dolores Roach a relatable character?

According to Aaron Mark, the creator of the series, Dolores Roach is a serial killer who is not a sociopath. He approaches her character as someone relatable, someone who could be any one of us. This relatability adds depth and complexity to her portrayal.

How does “The Horror of Dolores Roach” explore the impact of gentrification?

The series delves into the consequences of gentrification by showcasing the displacement of communities, rising property prices, and the struggles faced by individuals affected by these changes. It uses dark humor and a touch of madness to shed light on these issues.

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