JACK OF DOVER and POWER LUNCH, Wing & Groove Theatre Company, at Voltaire. These two one-acts–both directed by Andrew Gall and both focusing on people sitting at tables talking–couldn’t be more different in style, theme, approach, or outcome. Alan Ball’s Power Lunch is a witty absurdist take on gender differences and the mating dance, while Derek Davidson’s Jack of Dover is a dryly written, more or less realistic conversation between a young man and the uncle he adores.

Of the two, Ball’s is the more successful, in part because he manages to squeeze a lot of truth about relationships, straight and gay, into his surprisingly short play, and in part because Amy Tourne and David Maddalena are so perfect as the brittle, lonely woman and the puffed-up, childish man. The only thing more rewarding than watching these two bicker about every single issue that divides men from women is seeing the surprised looks on their faces when their mating instincts take over, signified by a down-and-dirty dance tune that comes on every time their arguments reach fever pitch. Despite the characters’ best intentions, their sour jabs and bitter quips only lead them deeper into intimacy.

Jack of Dover is a predictable little tale, overwritten, badly directed, and poorly acted by Andrew Segall, who speaks too softly, and Stephen Roath, who bellows when he isn’t shouting. Davidson takes almost an hour to tell us what we’ve already learned in the play’s first five minutes: that the sky-talking poet-uncle at the center of the story is a fraud, unworthy of his nephew’s adulation.

–Jack Helbig