A senior administration official, reflecting growing anger with House Speaker Jim Wright (D-Tex.), yesterday called last week's whirl of Central American diplomacy by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Wright an "unbelievable melodrama" and an "exercise in guerrilla theater" that dealt "a serious setback" to the regional peace process.

"This was not forward movement; this was screwing up the process," said the official in describing "the Friday media event" in which Ortega, with Wright's help, announced an 11-point cease-fire plan and called on Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo to use it as the basis for indirect negotiations with U.S.-backed contra rebels.

The official declined to be identified, but he has a major role in planning and executing administration foreign policy. His criticism of Wright's actions was much harsher than public statements from the White House and State Department, essentially taking the gloves off the anger building inside the administration over the speaker's efforts to prod it into a more active role in Central American peace efforts.

President Reagan, in his weekly radio address yesterday, did not mention Wright directly when he described the civil war in Nicaragua as "a Nicaraguan conflict that should be resolved by Nicaraguans."

But the senior official said: "The notion that serious negotiations will be advanced if prominent Americans are dragged into it is ridiculous on its face. That would only slow up and screw up the process by providing temptations to use the American participation for propaganda purposes. There should be no U.S. government role, and Cardinal Obando should now be given an opportunity to get the process back on track through quiet contacts with the Nicaraguan government and resistance."

Wright was in Texas yesterday and could not be reached for comment. However, he reminded reporters Friday that his involvement in the Central American issue resulted from a White House request last August that he join Reagan in jointly proposing a regional peace initiative.

Their alliance broke down within a few days, but Wright has remained a strong supporter of the five-nation peace agreement signed in Guatemala Aug. 7. Various Central American leaders also have called on him to help resolve problems with implementation of the accord, and his three days of talks with Ortega here last week represented only the latest of several interventions contrary to administration policy.

The senior official said the administration

was especially angered by Wright's latest actions because "it threatens to derail what had looked like the start of a serious negotiating process."

He said Ortega's Marxist Sandinista government made "a serious move" two weeks ago when it proposed indirect talks with Obando as go-between.

He added that the administration responded with "a serious move" last Monday when Reagan said that if an indirect Sandinista-contra dialogue does begin, the United States would resume high-level talks with Nicaragua provided they include all five countries in the Guatemala agreement.

"The next step should have been for Ortega to go to Obando -- they live in the same city after all -- and give him the proposal to relay to the resistance," the official said. "Instead you got this guerrilla theater where Ortega came up here and with Wright's help forced the cardinal to come up after him. It became an unbelievable melodrama where Ortega dragged in Wright and then Wright dragged in {Paul C.} Warnke," who was director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency in the Carter administration.

The official said that in a Friday meeting with Ortega and Obando, Wright suggested that Warnke, an experienced arms-control negotiator, might act as a consultant to the cardinal. According to the official, Wright also offered to assign various congressional staffers including Edward King, who has experience in military matters, and Wilson Morris, an aide to the speaker, as observers to the talks.

In Managua, Nicaraguan Vice President Sergio Ramirez told Washington Post correspondent William Branigin that the Sandinistas had invited Wright into the process as "a witness" rather than "a mediator" and that it now would be up to Obando to determine what role Wright might play.

Whether Wright's efforts will produce an indirect dialogue leading to a cease-fire in accordance with the Guatemala agreement still is not clear. Obando, who has not yet committed himself to acting as intermediary, met privately with three contra leaders in Miami yesterday before returning to Managua.

{After the meeting, Obando said that, because Ortega has proposed a cease-fire plan, it was now up to the contras to make the next move, The Associated Press reported.

{"If they really want to commence a negotiation, they must submit their proposals," Obando said. "I want to stop the river of blood that is occurring in my country. I need to see more . . . to see what the Resistance (contras) will do."}

A formal response by the contras to Ortega's plan is not expected until later this week. The sources said it will be made somewhere in Central America.

But several contra leaders, while saying they are willing to view the proposal by Ortega's government as an opening move in a give-and-take negotiation, have made clear that the plan will be rejected.

The Ortega plan envisions a one-month cease-fire beginning Dec. 5 after which the contra forces would lay down their arms and accept a political amnesty. Bosco Matamoros, a contra spokesman, summing up the views of resistance leaders, said, "Mr. Ortega wants us to surrender on the Washington stage; we want a serious dialogue in Nicaragua."