"Purge" was the name given to the original installation on which this performance is based. The format was simple: Brian had one minute to summarise and defend his relationship with every single one of his facebook friends individually in front of an audience, who then voted on whether he should keep or delete them.

Before he went ahead with the purge, he sent an email to all of his facebook friends explaining what he was going to do and why. The replies he receives (and reads out) are a jumbled mix of outrage, indignation, acceptance and at least one threat of bodily harm. Based on these emails, the audience guesses whether the friend survived the original panel. The answers are surprising and sometimes divisive. Brian then clears up what, if anything happened to their relationship after the infamous purge.

The performance itself is a mix of dynamic storytelling, personal reflection and audience interaction. Lobel jumps from one section to the next without warning, and sometimes without taking a breath. The fact that the entire show is being live-streamed, and therefore viewable by his current Facebook friends, gives it an extra level of danger.

Though the distinct voices of his friends provide some really great laughs, it is Lobel himself who makes the show fly. His warm, disarmingly chirpy manner makes the already intimate space a joy to be in. His warts-and-all openness and skill with a crowd mean that when you're encouraged to join in, you really want to. One member of the audience was invited to unfriend someone in front of everyone – and they did.

Lobel couldn't have picked a better subject. Facebook and social networking are so commonplace that everyone in the audience has their own personal grumbles about the way people behave online. His anxiety over why his mother hasn't friended him and her subsequent explanation are sure to strike a chord. Purge is relevant and irreverent. Just like its subject matter, it is at times surface-level and disposable, at others rich with real, human sentiment.

The piece explores the emotional reasons behind the original purge, especially the death of Grant, an old flame whose shadow is perpetually hanging over the performance and Brian. Particularly poignant was Lobel's recollection of finding Grant's old Friendster (a now out-of-date precursor to modern social networking sites) account after he had died. The notion that he was still alive, even if only on a deserted website, was at once bizarre and bittersweet.

Brian's life is revealed in snippets, through the stories he shares about his friends, many (but not all) involving his private parts in some way or another. You get a sense of the kind of people he attracts and is attracted to, and start to understand how one person can affect and be influenced by the friends they keep. If this show is anything to go by, Brian Lobel is certainly one to watch out for.

At its heart, Purge explores what and who our friends really are – in real life and online. It asks what social media is for, how we use it, what we want from it and ultimately whether it means anything to us personally.

Considering its episodic nature, Purge has a wonderful pay-off. After reflecting on social networking for the entire piece, Lobel ends with a story of a phone call to Grant that was cut short by a dead battery, only to be saved by a policeman who says "you can call your boyfriend on my cell phone."

As a side note, Lobel styles Purge as the second in a trilogy on love, death and technology entitled "Mourning Glory", the final performance (Love Letters & Lehman Brothers) premiering at the Forest Fringe in Edinburgh, so for those of you heading beyond Hadrian's Wall for the Fringe, Lobel is not to be missed.

Purge, at Battersea Arts CentreNik Way reviews Purge at Battersea Arts Centre.5