The second act opens with a song from Mrs Johnstone in which she reveals their happier life in the countryside. Here, her bills are paid on time, and she has been taken out dancing by the milkman.
She tells of Mickey being fourteen and Sammy burning down the school, which she passes off as an “easily done” accident during a science lesson involving magnesium. With a sadder tone, she tells of how her other children have left home and lead challenging lives.
Meanwhile, Mrs Lyons teaches her son, Edward, to dance. However, he expresses frustration about not having the chance to dance with girls at his all-boys school.
In the next scene, Sammy has a dispute with a bus conductor and pulls a knife on him, before being chased by police. After this, Edward gets suspended from his boarding school when he refuses to take off his locket. Mickey and Linda (who has also been rehoused to the countryside) are suspended from their secondary modern school after arguing back with a bullying teacher.
Mrs Lyons reacts with shock to Edward’s suspension. She looks at the picture in the locket and thinks the baby is Edward, which confuses him. However, she is appalled when she realises that it has been given to him by Mrs Johnstone, and they argue about this.
Mickey and Linda walk up a hill. She flirts with him, but he is too awkward to flirt back, despite wanting to. He becomes jealous when Linda finds another boy “gorgeous”, and she storms off in a rage at his mixed messages. From a distance, Mickey and Edward spot each other. Both enviously imagine how the other might be leading a happier, more well-adjusted life. They meet and recognise each other, immediately rekindling their friendship. Mickey admits his love for Linda.
As the two go off together, Mrs Lyons sees them and follows them to the Johnstones’s house. We see Mrs Johnstone shocked, but happy, to see Edward, and then the boys go off to the cinema together. Mrs Lyons enters and confronts Mrs Johnstone, accusing her of following them to the countryside. She offers a large bribe for them to move to a new area; when that doesn’t work, she attempts to stab Mrs Johnstone in a fit of madness.
Coming out of the cinema, the boys see Linda, and the three friends are reunited. They are cheeky to a policeman in the same way that they were as younger children. We see them having fun and growing closer as the years pass and they turn eighteen. Edward tells them that he is going to university the next day, and he pushes Mickey into finally asking Linda to be his girlfriend, even though he too is in love with her.
In the next scene, Mickey tells his mother that Linda is pregnant, and they will soon be married and live together. However, he then receives a letter informing him that he has lost his job. We see the guests at their wedding forming a line at the dole office.
Returning from university, Edward speaks of his new friends and the fun he has had. He cannot understand Mickey’s gloomy mood over being made redundant. Mickey becomes angered and threatens Edward with violence to make him leave.
In parallel scenes on stage, Sammy recruits Mickey for a robbery, while Edward confesses his love for Linda. During the robbery, Sammy shoots a man, and Mickey is jailed for seven years for his part in the crime. In prison, he becomes depressed and addicted to medication.
Released two years early due to good behaviour, Mickey finds that Edward – now an influential city councillor – has arranged a council house for him and Linda, as well as a job. Although Linda tries to keep it a secret, Mickey guesses that it is Edward who has used his power to enable their improved situation, and sinks deeper into his addiction.
Linda and Edwards have a “light romance”, which Mickey finds out when Mrs Lyons tells him about it. In a crazed jealousy, Mickey finds a gun that Sammy hid at their mother’s house and goes to the town hall, where Edward is in a councillors’ meeting. Mickey reveals that he has given up the pills he is addicted to, but laments how it is now “too late” to save his marriage.
Mrs Johnstone appears and tells Mickey and Edward that they are twins. In fury that he was not the one given away, Mickey accidentally shoots Edward, before being shot himself by the police. The play finishes with Mrs Johnstone singing a song of grief, wishing the events weren’t true but instead “just a dream.”