In the Source Theatre Company's church-annex rendering of "The Three Sisters," actors periodically sail across the stage in rapturous reveries, and do wild dance mocking one another, and drop dishes resoundingly on the floor.

There are those, no doubt, who would prefer a quieter brand of Chekhov - and who could cite, no doubt, bits of razzle-dazzle here that were never dreamed by the author. But director Bart Whiteman's over-all counterpoint by bursts of hopeful activity is precisely the tension Chekhov's plays are made of. And within the limits of a budget that might barely cover the expenses of a one-night-stand by a performing caterpillar, Whitman and his troupe have done an impressive job of executing the detail as well as the broad outline of this 80-year-old classic.

It is not a difficult task to turn Chekhov into a languorous, exhausting experience. Some productions have managed that with handsome financing and actors of large, justified reputations.

This production, which has in its cast several conspicuously inexperienced and awkward actors, and a wardrobe that includes several pairs of polyethylene-soled shoes (were there Thom McAns in Czarist Russia?), proves just how far a company's individual and collective intelligence and care can go toward compensating for such inadequacies.

"We're the children of people who despise work," says Irina, the youngest of the sisters (played with wrenchint wistfulness by Theresa Aceves) in this next-to-last of Chekhov's plays.

Their father was a general, but if we are to judge by the example of the various soldiers who take living part in the play, the army could not have demanded much of him. Little indeed is demanded of any of "The Three Sisters'" characters. They yearn for work, excitement and purpose but feel the characteristic Chekhovian powerlessness to realize all aims.

The Source production draws slightly disproportionate attention to Irina and her suitor, Baron Tusenbach, simply because, of the three key romantic relationships in the play, this is the one acted with greatest authority (by Aceves as Irina and Bim Oakley as Tuesnbach).

Several of the other principal players have not gripped their roles nearly as strongly, but there is, nevertheless, a redeeming thread of common sense and plausibility to every performance.

The uncredited translation, likewise, is in free, graceful and reasonably idiomatic English. CAPTION: Picture, Megan Morgan, right, Michaeleen O'Neil and Theresa Aceves, foreground.