Nat is in the first year of her GCSEs, but the voices she's always heard in her head are beginning to get in her way. She's not crazy, but she is being seriously distracted. Does she need pills, or understanding?
Luckily, Nat meets Miss Davies, a temporary music teacher who brings new life to the type we've all known: the inspiring teacher who managed to connect with our concerns without patronising us or telling us what to do. The school's headmaster seems to be more worried about an upcoming inspection than the challenges faced by his pupils - a general pattern of management behaviour that's become familiar in contemporary drama. Nat's mum and (absent) dad contrast with each other, Jane being short on patience and anxious to embrace medication on Nat's behalf, and Paul more inclined to take an exploratory approach to Nat's condition.
But it's the young people who create - and solve - Nat's real problems. Social acceptance and romance scuttle down the corridor when there's any suggestion that someone is visiting the school counsellor's office, and, although this isn't directly commented on, Nat's absence from school for some weeks must help to increase her sense of isolation. Through the power of music, and specifically Nat's newly discovered talent for arranging music, the school choir transforms into a truly creative musical force that allows the young people's talents and enthusiasms shine through. There's rapping, too.
The harmonising voices that Nat hears are carefully calibrated to disturb without seeming absurd - a tricky balance that's preserved by the director's refusal to overuse the technique and thereby make it a gimmick.
Normal and Nat could easily be an "issue play" littered with slick life lessons and easy-to-swallow mental health awareness caplets. But by choosing to show the prejudice of Nat's mother without correcting it, and by showing the continuing distrust shown to people with mental health issues via Miss Davies' experience, Debbie Oates manages to keep the story real.
Nat ...... Rebecca Ryan
Miss Davies ...... Elizabeth Berrington
Mix ...... Jamil Thomas
Shanice ...... Wunmi Mosaku
Jane ...... Sue Devaney
Pianist ...... Jonathan Scott
The Voice in Nat's Head ...... Emma Johnson
With Chorlton High School Choir and The RNCM Gospel Choir.
Directed in Manchester by Nadia Molinari and broadcast on Thursday 6 August 2009 at 14:15 on BBC Radio 4.