Silver Spring Stage's new production of Dale Wasserman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" illustrates the dangers of imposing a realistic style on abstract material.

Set in a mental," the play concerns a rebel destroyed by society. Thematically it is identical to Wasserman's "Man of La Mancha." In both, a single convert is left behind to carry the message.

The play's events are viewed through the mind of a schizophrenic American Indian whose thoughts are revealed by voice-overs as stage action freezes. Reality, memory and fantasy play in counterpoint as each surfaces in turn. In this production, a desire to clearly separated them results in rough transitions. Our belief in the play is jolted.

It is in keeping with the play's metaphorical nature that characters are larger than life, that lighting, music and pacing have the meancing momentum of a nightmare. Here, distracting Muzak and awkward lighting dilute that force. Yet the acting is consistently strong and the production as a whole, if askew in approach, is affecting.

Performances are scheduled at 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 7:30 p.m. on Sundays through April 29 at Silver Spring Stage, 10145 Celesville Rd., telephone 593-7855.