We've all been there — you're halfway through the second act of a Spoleto show when your stomach roars so loud it drowns out the horn section. You're starving and if sustenance is not acquired the minute after curtain call, well, the departing audience is about to see you perform a death scene to rival Hamlet's.
You see, the play is not the thing, dammit. The post-show cocktails, crudités, and kibbitzing about the show is. Hello. Did you learn nothing in Theatre 101?
So, where to go? Well, it's all about location and budget, because let's be honest, us Spoleto-goers are a diverse lot. There's the moneyed crowd who attend as much for the show as for the opportunity to see and be scene, and then there's the passionate arts and culture nerds, who likely spent all their pennies on this one ticket and will only be able to spare some change on an after-hours nosh. Luckily, we have you both covered. Flush attendees, for our purposes we'll call you Ballers. Poor artsy folks, you're Olivers, as in "please sir, we want we some more." Yes, yes, Olivers, we're getting to that
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
If you've just caught My Cousin Rachel, the thriller produced by Dublin's Gate Theatre, you're likely riveted and ready to sit down somewhere with a glass of wine to discuss the sets, staging, and the early 19th century costumes.
Ballers: Hot foot it to Oak, which stays open until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. At a cozy booth you can dissect Daphne du Maurier's whodunit. And if you discover halfway through your entree that, thanks to the heavy Irish accents, your date totally missed the plot, well at least you'll have a perfectly prepared 8-ounce filet mignon to distract you.
Olivers: Might we suggest Fast & French, just a few blocks away from Dock Street? Every year, in honor of the festival, the cafe extends their hours from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Saturday. And that means for $5.60 you can get a croque monsieur with soup or salad. For $4 more, you can add a glass of house red. And with community tables, you can get your geek on with festival-going strangers for hours of cocktail-infused dramaturgical chatter.
56 Beaufain St.
You're literally panting after seeing Dorrance Dance. I mean, watching an hour and 15 minutes of tap is basically a workout by proxy, right? Time to refuel those electrolytes.
Ballers: You know exactly where you're going. A place where the Pappy flows like sweat off those Dorrance dancers' brows. We're talking about Husk Bar. Head to the second floor to talk two-steps as you dive into the beauty that is the Husk burger.
Olivers: Bin 152 might look hifalutin', but if you roll in with a crowd, you can split a cheese plate — get the roquefort — bottle of wine, and hang out until 2 a.m. And by that hour, there will be no shame if the vino goes to your head and you insist on tapping your way home down King Street.
Cistern at College of Charleston
66 George St.
On a clear night, there are few venues more lovely than the College of Charleston's Cistern. And with jazz songstress Charenée Wade getting the crowd on their feet, you'll likely shimmy your body into a hypoglycemic fit. OK, we can't back that up. (Dammit science.) But we're guessing your blood sugar levels will be low, so ...
Ballers: Take your party down the road to Charleston Grill. With any luck you'll arrive when the Quentin Baxter Trio is still playing, keeping the party going as you use your own jazz hands to attack seared foie gras, butter- poached lobster, and roasted oysters.
Olivers: Calzone anyone? Reboot your system at Mellow Mushroom with a piping hot pie. Bonus, you can keep the rowdy adrenaline rush going in this noisy bar, so reminisce excitedly about your own foray into singing. Wait, nope. Stop, stop singing. No, for real.
301 Meeting St.
With the inimitable René Marie taking the stage in tribute to sex kitten Eartha Kitt, it's bound to get hot up in the TD. Feed those aphrodisiac flames with a romantic post-show meal for two.
Ballers: Take your hands off each other for two minutes and walk over to Zero George. Beyond the twilight-lit courtyard you'll find the cafe open until midnight. From the cozy bar you can hum "C'est Si Bon" in privacy while hand-feeding one another crispy tuna rrrrrolls. Cuz Kitt rolls her Rs. Never mind.
Olivers: Get thee to the Rarebit. Sure, you have a bit of a stroll, but all the better for moonlit hand-holding. The restaurant serves breakfast until 1 a.m. So, tuck into a booth or grab a seat at the bar and split some French toast as you toast the best date ever.
280 Meeting St.
Laughter boosts the immune system, reduces stress related hormones, and increases respiration. Which means attending any Piccolo Fringe show at Theatre 99 is a health write-off (try hip-hop comedy duo Squirm & Germ). And with all that abdominal exercise, you can treat yourself following the show.
Ballers: Continue the laughs at FIG's bar with chicken liver pate and Capers Blades on the half shell. Add a couple Daisy Cutter cocktails and we're sure you'll be rolling in your seat. At least until the bill comes, then Mike Lata gets the last laugh.
Olivers: Just down the street on Calhoun, at Big Gun the burgers are bitchin' (and at $12 max, reasonable to go splitsies on) and the laughs are free. That's right, the bar hosts stand-up nights and regardless of how novice the comic may be, order yourself enough pauper-friendly $2 PBRs, and we're sure hilarity will ensue.