Michael Taylor is director of ElevenOne Theatre’s final play for 2015, The 39 Steps, staged at the Mathematical Institute

I chose to direct this play because I fell in love with it. I’ve always loved Buchan’s novels. They’re particular to a sense of time but they have a very modern pace, and a distinctly British flavour.

The play of The 39 Steps isn’t just an adaptation of the exciting book by local author John Buchan. It’s a retelling of the classic movie by Alfred Hitchcock. The adapted story keeps the pace of both – and turns it into two hours of hilarity.

I’m not your typical theatre director. I did science rather than arts. Never went to the theatre at college (not even when I had an actor girlfriend). But here I am – science publisher and researcher by day, theatre person by night and I love doing both.

It all came about when my wife had a certain birthday, and I gave her a theatre company. I cast myself in a number of roles: web-designer, accountant, carpenter, and after a few shows, I thought I could do that! I started acting, wrote a play, which won some prizes, got involved in improvised comedy, directed some sketches, then plays.

Looking back, I don’t think it was such a huge shock. Even in my publishing career I discovered that humour, spectacle, and storytelling get people engaged and responsive. Whether it’s theatre or work, I have these two strands that I’m committed to.

First, tell the story. Second, be consciously entertaining.

The 39 Steps is an epic story of a British hero escaping on trains, being chased by a plane, kidnapped in a car, believed by none and fighting to save the country. It takes the most exciting parts of the film and puts them on stage. Richard Hannay wrestles police on top of a train, leaps from windows, jumps from the Forth Bridge, fights to save the nation and tries to win the girl.

We’ve been lucky enough to have an intelligent cast and crew who have brought loads of ideas with them. We’re staying true to the story while being utterly indulgent with the spectacle.

This will entertain you from the dramatic start to the romantic ending, will have you laughing and crying and maybe sitting on the edge of your seats. If you enjoy it as much as we have, it’ll be a great way to end the year.

The 39 Steps. December 15-19. Tickets: www.ticketsoxford.com or 01865 305305.